August 27, 2019
As the UK swelters amid another day of boiling weather, with temperatures in the south-east expected to reach 33C, one thing is clear – 2019 has been a record-breaking year for weather. 
Is Climate Change Behind 2019s Record-Breaking Temperatures? We Asked The Experts
Not only was Easter Monday the hottest on record in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, with the mercury rising to 25C, but the highest ever temperature recorded in the UK – 38.7C – was reached in Cambridge in July. 
Cap it off with temperatures as high as 33.3C during the August bank holiday weekend – the hottest ever recorded – and it’s safe to say it has been a pretty remarkable year so far. 
At the same time, the summer of 2019 has been the summer environmentalism has gone mainstream. While Greta Thunberg and the climate change protest group Extinction Rebellion repeatedly hit the headlines, fires in the Amazon rainforest were at the centre of G7 talks in Biarritz this weekend. 
But are the two connected? Can the extreme temperatures the UK has seen this year be blamed on climate change? We spoke to a range of climate change experts to find out.  Question: Are the record-breaking temperatures we have seen this year the result of climate change? Dr Michael Byrne, Imperial College London: “You can’t say whether one event is caused by climate change. Like the heatwave we had this bank holiday weekend – we can’t say with 100% certainty that was caused by climate change. That’s just not how the science works. But what we can say is that climate change loads the dice to make events much more likely.”
Professor Piers Forster, Priestly International Centre for Climate: “There is no doubt that man-made climate change is heavily implicated in the record-breaking temperatures. The weather conditions also played a role but there is no doubt that heatwaves will be still hotter and more frequent over the coming decades.”
Dr Melissa Lazenby, University of Sussex: “Human influence on our climate is unequivocal and studies are now indicating that heatwaves are 5-30 times more likely due to anthropogenic climate change. Therefore these new records reached recently are likely to follow the same pattern and are more extreme and frequent due to the influence of human activity.
“There is and always has been natural variability in our climate, however more and more research has shown the influence of human activities now to be the dominant force driving our climate. Therefore these recent extremes are highly likely due to our human influence more than natural variability. Humans are the dominant force driving the climate and therefore it is our responsibility to manage it sustainably.”    
Professor Joanna Haigh, Imperial College London: “What we can say is that as global warming increases, events like this are going to become more common. We’ve seen them becoming more common over the northern hemisphere over the last 20 years or so. So something that was very rare in the 1970s is now almost ‘normal’.
“That doesn’t mean that we can actually say that a particular hot weather event is due to climate change – you can’t say it’s hot today, it’s due to climate change. What you can say is that the heat that we’re experiencing at the moment is much more likely under climate change conditions, so it may well be associated.” Question: Can we expect records to continue to be broken? Professor Joanna Haigh, Imperial College London:“Yes, indeed. You’ve got the average temperatures going up and you’ve got the extreme temperatures going up as well. Not year on year, because you’ve got the wonderful variability of weather, which means its colder one year and warmer the other. But the underlying trend will be more hot events and fewer cold events.” 
Dr Michael Byrne, Imperial College London: “Since industrial times, since before we started emitting greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, the world has warmed by around 1C… What this overall global warming means is that the likelihood of extreme heatwaves like we’re experiencing now in London are much more likely.
“If we take the 2018 summer in the UK as an example, it was the hottest on record with periods of really long, dry weather. The Met Office analysis of that heatwave found that it was 30 times more likely because of climate change. So in the past, before we were emitting greenhouse gases, the 2018 heatwave was maybe a one in 100 year event. Now it’s more like a one in three to four year event because of the climate change that has happened. 
“The summer of 2018 will become pretty typical in the UK by 2050, by which time the climate of London is expected to look like the climate of Barcelona today. Climate change is definitely driving what we are seeing.” Question: Are enough systems in place to help us deal with these extreme weather events? Dr Michael Byrne, Imperial College London: “What is in place and what I think works pretty well is the forecast system. The heatwave we just had over the past few days was earmarked for a good week. The short term forecast of these events has definitely improved.
“But on the flip-side, if you wind back to the hottest day ever in the UK, on that day in London it became very apparent that London specifically was not prepared for that kind of event. Train lines buckled, overhead power cables came down and the city in general just felt uncomfortable – most of the tube lines do not have air-conditioning, most homes and offices don’t either. With these kind of heatwaves becoming increasingly frequent, over the coming decades a huge amount of work needs to be done in the UK to prepare for those impacts. 
“What is not always appreciated is that increasing temperatures globally go hand in hand with heavier downpours, particularly in the UK. So there is a huge amount of work that needs to happen in the UK to prepare everyone for what is coming.” 
Professor Piers Forster, Priestly International Centre for Climate: “We have to change our homes, hospitals, cities, travel and farming to be both zero emissions and resilient to the heatwaves and flooding we know is around the corner. We need to make these investments and changes now.”  Related... Britain Experiences Record-Breaking Bank Holiday Weather Brazil To Reject $20m G7 Fund To Tackle Amazon Fires Over 1000 Extinction Rebellion Activists Were Arrested In April – This Is What Happened To Them Next
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