They’re forecasting temperatures could rise as high as 48C in Sicily. That’s hot. Too darn hot. It’s the kind of hot that if you’re thinking about heading south might put you off, or at least make you wish you had booked a different holiday, possibly a nice rainy staycation. 

So if you’re just about to fly to southern Europe, there’s a chance you’re already wondering – how much heat is too much? And perhaps asking if the so-called Cerberus heatwave, or its forecast cyclone-induced successor, Charon, will afflict your own holiday destination? 

If you are, I’m not surprised. This is the kind of thing that I was thinking a few weeks ago, having chosen, for the first time in many years, to book a trip to the Mediterranean. Would it be too hot?

As it turns out, we only touched on the start of the heat. Headlines, as we flew back, were declaring 16 cities in Italy on red alert. Power outages in Rome were reported to be the result of air conditioning use. And amidst all this, the Daily Telegraph ran an article asking the question, "Is it safe to go on holiday during Europe's Cerebus heatwave?"

The UK seemed in a panic about whether our holidays were about to be ruined. But let’s face it – that's hardly the real question of our times. The bigger question is what kind of heat, or climate-related event, is it going to take to trigger change?  

I'll confess, right now, I’m part of the problem. Most of us are – except perhaps some of the so-called "eco-yobs" protesting at Grangemouth, or those struggling to afford food, let alone a flight and vacation.  

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Clearly, I am part of the problem having just returned by plane from Mallorca, where the temperature gradually rose over a two-week stretch, through the mid-thirties, and we turned on the air conditioning, adding, as it were, to the problem. 

My husband, normally a sun-lover, said never again. It would be a "no" to holidays in the Med in the blistering heat of summer. He proposed autumn instead, and I said, gloomily, “Yeah, why not let’s carry on burning up the planet with our flights?” 

But, for the holidaymaker in a cool hotel with little more to do than snorkel in the sea, it wasn’t exactly hot hell. It wasn’t as if we were, like the 44-year-old Italian who died painting a zebra crossing, labouring in the sun. 

It was actually glorious, and that too is the problem. I felt both glad, and also terribly bad, for having given my teenage sons a bit of the summer dream that now comes packaged with guilt since there as yet are no real answers to those flight emissions.  

Meanwhile, the temperatures were rising across Europe and other parts of the world. The Canaries were burning up, with La Palma in flames. In China, on Sunday, a new record high of 52.2C was recorded in Sanbao township. June, globally, was the hottest month on record. 

Have we grown so used to the headlines of record-breaking heat, we are already immune? Another scary heat map. Another rise in the mercury.  It’s just how it goes. 

There are also plenty of people who will tell you that there were always heatwaves – and they would be correct. But this has been a year of startling anomalies, partly generated by El Nino, partly climate change.

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It's also been a year in which oil companies, amongst the biggest creators of the problem, began to roll back on their climate promises. Even as the heat intensified last week, Shell’s CEO declared curbing oil and gas production would be  “dangerous and irresponsible”. 

Meanwhile, in a piece for the New Yorker, climate activist Bill McKibben wrote, “Scientists who calculate historic temperatures by examining proxy records, such as lake sediments or ice cores, believe that this may well be the hottest it’s been on Earth since at least the peak of an era known as the Eemian... This would mean that nothing even remotely resembling a human civilization has ever known a world this hot.” 

The lack of action in response is baffling. When we discuss the planet, we often talk about systemic tipping points. But there is another point that worries me. It’s the psychological u-turn between the climate denial which told us we need do nothing and the climate doom that tells us there is nothing we now can do.  

I sense that mood out there, and it bothers me. It’s there even though, as McKibben points out, “a rapid end to burning fossil fuel would arrest the heating; and that rapid end is possible”.  

It’s there in those who still fly to the sun, not because they don’t believe the emissions matter, but because why deprive yourself of a party, given we are all already heading, together, like lemmings to a cliff? It's there in the oil bosses who still act like there is time for the rule of profit.

I hear flickers of it pass through my own mind. Then I remind myself we’re not there yet. There are answers and we can still be part of them. We have to be.