But it remains an open question whether extreme weather events like this month’s heatwave and fires will change that.
“For Germany, I think last year’s flood Otto said. But she expressed skepticism that the heatwave would have the same effect. “People don’t die falling in the street during heatwaves. People die quietly, in their shabby, poorly insulated houses.” And, she notes, people tend to be the elderly and the poor and sick — groups where the effects of heat can be more easily eliminated. “It is people who have died from air pollution, and no one cares,” she said.
Anna Walnycki, a climate change adaptation researcher at the London-based International Institute for Environment and Development, is more hopeful about extreme weather’s ability to attract attention. people in the immediate future of climate change.
“These days have really allowed people to see, you know, their mothers are suffering from the heat, the NHS is really buckling in the heat,” she said, referring to the Health Service. Country of England. By moving away from abstract discussions of net carbon emissions to localized impacts with “human faces,” the heatwave could make a difference to public perceptions, she added. them about how much countries like the UK could lose to climate change – and how quickly that could happen.
It is true, of course, that the poorer countries of the Global South and the poorest within them will bear the brunt of climate change. In May, I was in India at the end of its own record heatwave, when temperatures rose much higher than in Europe. The impact on people’s livelihoods and survival is far more extreme than anything happening here.
And even within the same city, temperature can distinguish rich from poor: Walnycki, whose research has mainly focused on Latin America and Africa, tells me that neighborhoods are poorer and settlements are poorer. Informal settlements can become “heat islands” 10 degrees F hotter than surrounding areas. suburbs because of the warming effect of paved soil, scarce green space and limited shade.