When London broiled at record temperatures last month, it was a rare occurance easily labeled “extreme weather.” But the heat surge that rippled airport runways and led to major health alarms in a place that typically gets by without air conditioning can’t be considered entirely random bad luck.
Human-derived climate change dramatically upped the odds of record-shattering heat, a new study concludes. In fact, the study from a growing body of scientists comprising an organization called World Weather Attribution, says these record temperatures were 10 times more likely to have happened in modern times versus the pre-industrial era, largely because humans burn fossil fuels
for heating, driving, cooking, medical care and more. When fossil fuels are burned, they release large amounts of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, into the air. Greenhouse gases trap heat in our atmosphere, causing global warming. Weather extremes have always occured, but it’s their frequency and severity that’s grown more alarming. London’s heat wave, which peaked on July 18 and 19, set a record for the hottest temperature in the history of the U.K., at 104.54°F (40.3°C). On July 19, a total of 34 weather stations broke the previous all-time national temperature record, according to the U.K. Met Office, the official weather bureau. And the scorching readings hit as parts of western Europe sweltered under their own streak of extreme highs. Two years ago, with meteorologists quickening the rate at which they try to warn t …