Facing the Heat of Climate Change

Temperatures will cease rising only if humans stop adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, and any failure to tackle climate change would see heat extremes escalate even more dangerously, say experts.

The world is reeling under heat waves and wild fires raging across most parts of the globe as the sunrays that hot up under the influence of climate change engulf countries from Greece to the United States and Canada and from the Middle East to Japan and China.
Wildfires have ravaged across the Northern Hemisphere this month, breaking out in Greece, France, Germany, Spain, Turkey, Italy and Portugal, fuelled by increasingly hot and dry weather that scientists link to climate change.
In Greece, a wildfire fuelled by gale-force winds raged in mountains near Athens on Wednesday (15 July), forcing evacuation of hundreds, including hospital patients, while Britain reported its hottest ever day. 
In France, firefighters have been battling to contain huge forest fires in the south-western Gironde region along the Atlantic Coast, and around the town of Landiras south of Bordeaux since 12 July.
Authorities in Greece said they evacuated nine settlements, besides a hospital and the National Observatory of Athens and police helped at least 600 residents out of fire-stricken areas.
With wind speeds exceeding 80 kilometres per hour, it was a tough job for the firefighters.
Last year, wildfires ravaged about 120,000 hectares of forest and bushland in different parts of Greece as the country experienced its worst heat wave in 30 years.
In France, the damages caused by wildfires in Brittany and southern France created an exceptional situation, which called for more efforts and investments to tackle such threats.
The fires, fuelled by dryness and temperatures as high as 42.6 degree Celsius, have burned around 19300 hectares, as of 19 July. About 34,000 people have been ordered to evacuate the area. 
In Britain, fire-fighters on Wednesday worked day and night to douse wildfires in Tuscany while engineers struggled to fix train tracks that buckled in the heat on a day when temperatures topped 40 Degrees C for the first time. 
And, in Italy, gas tanks exploded in a blaze, bellowing smoke, forcing shipbuilder Fincantieri in northeast Italy to shut down a plant employing 3,000 people.
Climate change also played havoc with transportation networks in Germany, where water levels on the river Rhine fell further, forcing navigation authorities to sail with significantly reduced loads and hampering shipping on the entire river in Germany south of Duisburg.
Countries such as Portugal and Greece experience fires for most summers, and have infrastructure to try to manage them. Hotter temperatures are now pushing wildfires into regions that have not so far been affected.
In Spain, record-breaking heat wave, fuelled by a fire started on 15 June, in the province of Zamora, scorched at least 24,700 hectares and forced evacuation of more than 6,000 people from 32 villages in the area. 
A fire that started on 8 June in Malaga province, on the slope of Pujerra Mountain in Sierra Bermeja, ravaged 3,500 hectares of woods and bushes, forced evacuation of 2,000 people from the nearby town of Benahavis, and injured three fire-fighters. 
In Turkey, a wildfire broke out on 13 July near the town of Marmaris, in the Aegean province of Mugla, and spread through the woodlands in the sparsely populated area. About 17 houses and nearly 750 hectares of land were ravaged. Some 450 houses and 3,530 people were evacuated. 
In Portugal, a wildfire started on 17 July in the Murca municipality, in northern Portugal, spread towards Vila Pouca de Aguiar and Carrazedo de Montenegro.
The blaze has affected roughly 6,000 hectares, according to the EU's Earth Observation Programme, Copernicus. An elderly couple was found dead inside a burned-out car. 
Several wildfires broke out in the Leiria and Santarem districts, in the Ourem municipality on 7 July. Over 7,419 hectares have burned and authorities have blocked major motorways and side streets as strong winds made it harder for fire-fighters to fight the flames. Portugal's most important highway was also blocked due to another fire farther north. 
In the Mediterranean, climate change has contributed to a season of wild fires, and burning of more land. Last year more than half a million hectares burned in the European Union, making it the bloc’s second-worst forest fire season on record after 2017.
In the United States, more than 100 million people have been enduring dangerously high heat, according to the National Weather Service.
Oklahoma City experienced temperatures of 110 degree Fahrenheit (43 degree Celsius) on Tuesday.
In the United States, fire erupted in part of California's Yosemite National Park, home of some of the largest and oldest giant sequoia trees in the world, on 8 July. 
Flames consumed 1,525 hectares, according to a report by InciWeb, a risk information management system.
A pipeline fire erupted on 17 April, hitting the Coconino National Forest, the Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument, and the Lack Bill Park, north Flagstaff city, in Arizona.
The fire burned more than 8,000 hectares and prompted mandatory evacuation order of more than 2,100 homes. 
In New Mexico, a fire in the Hermits Peak in the southern Sangre de Cristo Mountains in San Miguel County, merged with the Calf Canyon fire, in the east of Santa Fe, that started on 6 April  and 19April, respectively, caused New Mexico's largest blaze to date. The fires burned 14,000 hectares as of 15 July, according to a report by Santa Fe National Forest Services. The flames are now contained at 93 per cent.
In California, the rare winter blaze, dubbed the Colorado Fire, burned some 425 hectares south of Monterey and just north of the area known as Big Sur between 21 January and 24 January. It forced evacuation of about 500 people and shut a major highway.
In Canada, a blaze broke out on 14 July near the village of Lytton, in British Columbia. It is the most significant wildfire in the province so far this year, according to BC Wildfire Service.
The day after the fire broke out, nearly 750 hectares were burned. Local authorities issued evacuation orders to 24 property owners close to the fire, while residents of several First Nation reserves were told to flee the area.
In Argentina, South America, wildfires in the Corrientes province, near Paraguay's borders, that broke out on 7 February, ravaged about 9,00,000 hectares of forest and pasture land, some 12 per cent of the region.
The blazes displaced or killed several wild animals such as capybaras, maned wolves, alligators, marsh deer and other species. 
In Asia, a fire that broke out on 4 March in the eastern coastal county of Uljin in South Korea, near the Hanul Nuclear Power Plant, spread across the nearby city of Samcheo, consuming more than 6,000 hectares, destroying at least 159 houses and forcing 6,200 people to evacuate the area, according to a report by the Associated Press.
In the African continent, wild fires started erupting in the provinces of Larache, Ouezzane and Tetouan, in the north of Morocco and in the South-East province of Taza early last week. Raging fires destroyed over 1,600 hectares of forest and damaged many homes, and killed one person.
In the northern region, fires forced 1,100 people to flee 15 villages in Larache, while 645 residents were evacuated from Taza and Tetouan, according to the media.
A study in the journal Nature this month found that heat waves in Europe have increased three-to-four times faster than in other northern mid-latitudes such as the United States. The authors linked this to changes in the jet stream - a fast west-to-east air current in the northern hemisphere.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the UN panel of environment scientists, has confirmed that climate change makes heat waves hotter and more frequent. This is particularly the case for most land regions.
Greenhouse gas emissions from human activities have heated the planet by about 1.2 Celsius since pre-industrial times. A warmer baseline leads to higher temperatures during extreme heat waves.
Temperatures will only cease rising if humans stop adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. Until then, heat waves are set to worsen. Any failure to tackle climate change would see heat extremes escalate even more dangerously.
A heat wave that occurred once per decade in the pre-industrial era would happen 4.1 times a decade at 1.5°C of warming, and 5.6 times at 2°C, according to the IPCC.
Countries agreed under the 2015 Paris Agreement to cut emissions fast enough to limit global warming to 2°C and aim for 1.5°C, to avoid its most dangerous impacts. Current policies would not cut emissions fast enough to meet either goal.
Wild fires that were rare occurrences earlier, are now raging more often and with greater intensity, lasting longer worldwide, even in winter.
In the first half of 2022, wildfires swallowed large swaths of dry vegetation, towns and homes, amidst extreme heat waves and droughts.