Climate change: Looming deadly heatwave should remind Conservative leadership candidates of the need to act – Scotsman comment

In France, thousands of people have fled their homes as wildfires rage. In Portugal and Spain, more than 280 people have died in temperatures of above 40C. And now warnings of extreme heat have been issued for much of the UK.

Everyone needs to take them seriously. The UK heatwave in summer 2018 resulted in the deaths of some 2,500 people and the next few days could see unprecedented temperatures with a record-breaking 40C forecast for southern England.

The Met Office’s red warning of extreme heat, which covers much of England for Monday and Tuesday, stresses even those not considered “most vulnerable” to hot weather could die. Power cuts, water supply outages, transport cancellations, and the loss of mobile phone services are other possible knock-on effects.

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Southern Scotland has been issued with an amber warning for extreme heat, with the temperatures expected to rise from tomorrow and peak early next week. Scottish Water has issued an urgent plea to save water with water tankers sent to Arran, among various places, amid the early signs of drought.

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Wildfires, heatwaves and drought: all consequences predicted by climate scientists as a result of global warming, but then it really doesn’t take years of study to understand that simple process of cause and effect.

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As humans continue to pump increasing amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and temperatures continue to rise, all of these effects and more are going to get worse. Without action, a number of tipping points will be crossed, triggering natural processes that could lead to ‘runaway’ warming and, essentially, Armageddon.

However, succumbing to ‘doomism’ is as useful as head-in-the-sand denial. Humanity will, eventually, come to its senses, probably after some particularly appalling catastrophe creates global panic. The sooner we do so, the better, both in terms of the climate and the economic impact.

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Firefighters work to extinguish a wildfire near Besseges, southern France (Picture: Sylvain Thomas/AFP via Getty Images)

In the meantime, everyone should do everything we can to make a difference: thinking about how we spend our money, how we travel and, most of all, how we vote.

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Depressingly, none of the Conservative party candidates vying to become the next Prime Minister has a good track record on climate change, despite warm words from some.

If we care about our children’s futures, we need to elect politicians who recognise the threat and are genuinely prepared to deal with it.

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