Adapting to hotter temperatures is sensible – but ignoring their causes is dangerous

The NHS is experiencing a “summer crisis”, with increased emergency admissions and uncomfortable conditions in buildings not equipped for the heat, while the Met Office has warned that the UK temperature record of 38.5C could be broken on Friday. Authorities in Greece are dealing with the aftermath of devastating wildfires that killed at least 85 people, while efforts to control blazes in Sweden and in California continue. In Japan, 23,000 people have been taken to hospital in the past week and the weather described by officials as a “disaster”. In Algeria, a new African record has been set of 51.3C.

Weather systems are highly complex and scientists are cautious about assigning specific causes to one-off events. But experts are already pointing to global warming as a driver for the current heatwave, with a study based on computer models and temperature data due to be published by scientists at Oxford University on Friday. Meanwhile, a new report from the environmental audit committee points to the likelihood of more frequent heatwaves in future, and the UK government’s failure to prepare adequately for them.

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