KAMALA Harris, one of the leading contenders for the US Democratic presidential nomination, puts the matter succinctly. What we are facing, she says, is a climate crisis.

“From families devastated by hurricanes in the South and East Coast, to farmers facing flooding in the Midwest, to firefighters battling wildfires in California, one thing is clear: We need to take bold, direct action now,” she urges via her website.

The researchers at Columbia University’s National Center for Disaster Preparedness could not agree more. Though the term ‘climate change’ makes sense, it is far too mild, they argue, to describe the existential threat to the planet that such changes pose.

Extinction Rebellion does not mince its words, either. What we are now faced with, they assert, is a climate and ecological crisis/catastrophe/emergency.

The evidence is piling up, inexorably. As we report today, July is about to be declared the world’s hottest-ever month on record. Figures suggest that global average temperatures for the month just gone will be “on a par with and possibly marginally higher” than those seen endured in the July of 2016, the previous warmest July. It is feared that temperatures July 2019 will have been around 1.2C (2.16F) above pre-industrial levels.

Australia has just experienced its third-hottest July on record, Large parts of Europe, and of the US, baked in heatwave temperatures in July. The record high temperatures shifted north, to Greenland, where the colossal ice-sheets are now melting at a truly startling rate. The situation there is summed up in a National Geographic headline: “A heat wave is turning Greenland’s ice to slush. That’s bad news.”

Coastal towns in Honduras have drowned in rising sea levels. Guatemala has encountered drought and famine, which has forced many people to flee the country, bound for the US.

To add to the sense of impending crisis, we have the grim situation at Whaley Bridge dam, in the Peak District. Part of the dam wall collapsed in the wake of extreme rainfall, leading to the evacuation of several hundred villagers. Emergency efforts are now being made to avert disaster.

Worldwide, there are encouraging signs, notably the efforts of the State of California to slash greenhouse gas emissions to 40 per cent below 1990 levels by 2030. Countless experts, governments, ordinary people and corporations have reacted to the nature of the emergency, but there has been, and doubtless will continue to be, a spectacular failure of global leadership. Donald Trump, who has licensed much pillaging of the American landscape during his time in office, offers a cynical shrug when confronted with the issue of climate change. Not my problem, he seems to say. Fake news.

Professor Richard Allan, an authority on climate science, is indisputably correct when he says that all the evidence is that our climate is heating up; it’s the fault of mankind, and the solution is to reduce and begin removing emissions of greenhouse gases

There are some signs that Trump is now vulnerable on the issue of climate change. Jay Inslee, like Kamala Harris a Democratic contender, has made the defeat of climate change his top priority, planning to commit his country to a hugely ambitious plan. Too ambitious? In ordinary times, perhaps, but less so in times of crisis. This is a matter that demands serious global leadership, before it is too late.

No Boris bounce

WELL, that honeymoon didn’t last long. There was no ‘Boris bounce’ at the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election. The pro-Remain Liberal Democrats, widely written off not so long ago, triumphed, and are now pondering electoral pacts with other pro-EU parties. Labour had a night to forget, pushed into fourth by the Brexit party. UKIP leapt off a cliff. Johnson now has a Commons majority of just one. What now? Does he call an election and go for broke? And when - before or after October 31st? And how much scope is there for informal Remain alliances across the country? The fractured political landscape never ceases to astonish.