Illustration by Aakif Rattu

Summer Heat Waves: Climate Change Around the World

The recent heat waves around the globe highlight our vulnerability in the face of climate change.

Sep 26, 2022

This summer is hotter than usual for most people: multiple record-breaking heat waves have hit Europe, North America, the Middle East and Asia, disturbing ordinary climate patterns. The increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather are the latest warnings of global warming.
In Europe, the extreme heat has sparked wildfires in Spain, France and Portugal. In the United Kingdom, temperature reached 40 degrees Celsius, making this summer one of the U.K.'s hottest summers on record.
Simultaneously, severe and continuous heat has led to thousands of heat-related deaths across Europe. According to the European Union’s statistics office, Eurostat, excess mortality in the EU has climbed to 17 percent, amounting to 53,000 additional deaths in July compared with the monthly average from 2016-2019.
A statement published by Eurostat reads: "Some of the mortality increase in July 2022 compared to the same month of the past two years may be due to the heatwaves that have affected parts of Europe during the reference period."
Meanwhile, similar events are happening in North America. Western United States has spotted wildfires, where millions were asked to limit power usage in order to avoid straining the power grid in Nevada and California.
China has also reported the “most severe” heatwaves and one of its lowest levels of rainfalls in 61 years, according to the national meteorological agency. The extreme drought caused water levels in China’s largest freshwater lake to drop about 10 meters between June and August. The Yangtze River Basin, home to nearly one-third of China’s population, received almost 80 percent less rain than the past 30-year average.
Pakistan is at the front line of climate change: first is heatwaves, and then floods. As Pakistan’s Climate Change Minister Sherry Rehman said: “a third of the country is underwater.”
The series of heat events witnessed this summer highlights our vulnerability to climate change. And now the question is: will this dangerous level of heat become a norm?
Unfortunately, people around the world may need to start learning how to deal with frequent heat waves in the foreseeable future. According to a new study published in Communications Earth & Planet by researchers at Harvard University and the University of Washington, record-breaking heat events will become more and more common.
“The number of days with dangerous levels of heat in the mid-latitudes will more than double by 2050,” said co-author David Battisti. “Even for the very low-end estimates of carbon emissions and climate response, by 2100 much of the tropics will experience ‘dangerous’ levels of heat stress for nearly half the year.”
This research highlights the necessity of reducing future greenhouse gas emissions and protecting populations to diminish the effects of heat waves on our daily lives. Choosing a green lifestyle is more urgent than ever before.
Barry Lin is News Editor. Email him at
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