THE highest temperature ever recorded north of the 50th parallel – in other words not so very far south of the latitude on which we live – was measured in British Columbia earlier this week. There, in the village of Lytton, in the “epic heat dome” which covers parts of Canada and North West United States, the mercury hit 49.5C. It also happens that Russia too has experienced its hottest June day in 142 years.

Meanwhile, this week, as our own temperatures hovered in the gentle twenties, a report published warning that nearly 2 million people living in the greater Glasgow area would face severe disruption from climate heating unless billions of pounds were invested in protective infrastructure. What we need to do, the report argues, is retrofit homes and offices for heatwaves, defend roads and rail links against flooding storms, and plant 20 million trees to cool the city during high temperatures and reduce flood risk.

This isn’t Canada. Extreme heat isn’t exactly a Scottish problem is it?

Perhaps you have forgotten the summer of 2018, when temperatures rose to 32C, railway lines buckled and the roof of the Glasgow Science Centre melted? Or are not aware that temperatures here too are predicted to rise.

Wouldn’t it be nicer if we got a bit more heat?

There is hot, there is unbearably hot and there is also hot that we are ill-prepared for. Bear in mind that soaring temperatures saw average death rates in British Columbia double in recent days. While no one is predicting such Celsius heights in Glasgow, we’ve seen what happens in Scotland when the thermometer rises to that mere 32 degrees. That, models tell us, is likely to happen a lot more often – in fact there’s 50 percent chance we will be experiencing such temperatures every year by 2050. Dryer summers and wetter winters are also predicted. Are we ready for it? Can our infrastructure take it?

It seems not. The Climate Ready Clyde report points out that the poorest residents will be the worst affected by increased heatwaves and flooding as they are the least equipped to cope.

Climate Ready Clyde are not the only ones worried, are they?

No, a recent report by the UK Climate Change Committee predicted that warming was likely to hit the UK harder than first thought, with more severe heatwaves affecting big cities, and more frequent floods – and advised significant climate-proofing.

Is this really part of wider climate change?

Just listen to the experts, who are saying that a the rise in baseline temperatures globally has increased the likelihood of such an extreme event. And to Joe Biden, who quipped, “Anybody ever believe you’d turn on the news and see it’s 116 degrees in Portland, Oregon? 116 degrees... But don’t worry – there is no global warming because it’s just a figment of our imaginations.” The heat dome may be a rare extreme event, but as wider temperatures rise it is likely to become more frequent.


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