Every year during the summer months, parts of the Northern Hemisphere suffer record heatwaves and fires. It has become the norm and the headlines, shocking as they are, soon lose their potency given the many other pressing issues facing the world. Yet, governments and citizens alike should all be taking heed because heatwaves are a growing concern that affects everyone. They are clear warning signs. Scientists have long predicted that the greater the amount of greenhouse gas emissions released into the air from cars, factories and power stations, the greater the extremes of hot weather, droughts, floods and storms. And so it is proving to be true.
The recent spate of extreme heatwaves in western Canada, the north-western United States and elsewhere are part of a pattern that is making some places on the planet increasingly challenging to live and work in. Extreme summer heat is proving costly and deadly, especially for those without the means to keep cool. In Australia, heatwaves are the nation's deadliest natural hazard and that threat looks set to grow. With higher heat and more severe droughts, the risk of more severe wildfires also increases, which has also proven to be true across the globe. This year's heatwaves have been exceptional in intensity and scale, having scorched parts of Siberia, western Russia, northern Europe and Central Asia.