Bitcoin mining site manager Guo-hua checks an application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) at ... [+] The Washington Post via Getty Images
The power demands and carbon emissions of bitcoin mining could undermine global efforts to combat climate change if stringent regulations are not placed upon the industry, a Chinese study has found. By 2024, mining of the cryptocurrency in China alone could use as much power as the entire nation of Italy uses in a year, with greenhouse gas emissions equalling those of the Czech Republic.
But rather than recommending increased taxation on bitcoin mining to curb emissions, or simply an outright ban on the practice, the paper, published today in the journal Nature, suggests that miners should be encouraged to shift their operations to regions that provide abundant low-carbon electricity.
The research is significant because China carries out at least 65% of the world’s bitcoin operations. Shouyang Wang, one of the report’s authors and chair professor at the Academy of Mathematics and Systems Science at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, told Forbes.com:
“While everyone has focused on bitcoin’s great profitability, we want people to become more aware of its potential issues and start thinking about these questions: is this industry actually worth the associated environmental impact, and how can we make profitable bitcoin mining operation more sustainable in the future?”
Using simulation-based models, the researchers found that, short of any policy interventions, bitcoin mining in China will peak in 2024 consuming 296.59 terawatt hours of electricity—as much as a medium sized country—and generate 130.50 million metric tons of carbon emissions. The authors further note that this consumption and the resulting emissions could derail China’s efforts to decarbonize its own energy system.
“It is important to note that the adoption of this disruptive and promising technique without [taking into account] environmental concerns may pose a barrier to the worldwide effort on GHG emissions management in the near future,” Wang said, adding that the research team was “surprised by the energy consumption and carbon emission assessment results of bitcoin blockchain operation in China.”
But the solution to the challenge, the authors argue, is “moving away from the current punitive carbon tax policy to a site regulation policy”—in essence, ensuring that mining operations move to areas that guarantee high rates of renewable electricity. Under such a policy, they found, only 20% of bitcoin miners remained in coal-intensive energy regions, resulting in lower carbon emissions per dollar earned, compared to a higher taxation scenario.
Under the site regulation model, the researchers found bitcoin operations generated 100.61 million metric tons at peak, as opposed to 105.19 million tons under an additional taxation scenario. Wang said government regulation of the industry was needed, but that bitcoin miners would likely be amenable to his team’s proposed solution.
“Site regulation should be carried out by the government, placing limitations on bitcoin mining in certain regions that use coal-based heavy energy,” Wang explained. “That being said, we think that there are enough benefits to this policy which will incentivize the miners to move their operation willingly. For example, since energy prices in clean-energy regions of China are lower than that in heavy-energy regions, the miners can effectively lower their individual energy consumption cost, which would increase their profitability.”
That isn’t to say, however, that regulation is the only method by which China should be reducing the emissions impact from bitcoin mining. “The government should also focus on upgrading the power generation facilities in clean-energy regions to ensure a consistent energy generation,” Wang said. “That way, the miners would definitely have more incentives to move voluntarily.”
Crunching The Numbers
Bitcoin operates by using blockchain technology—publicly recorded peer-to-peer transfers on encrypted computer networks—which eliminates the need for centralized authorities or banks. Bitcoin miners use arrays of processors to determine results to algorithmic puzzles that verify transactions that are added to the blockchain, for which they are in turn rewarded in bitcoins.
With the value of a single bitcoin having risen from $1 in April 2011 to around $60,000 in April 2021, and with yesterday’s news that the value of the cryptocurrency market has exceeded $2 trillion for the first time, the financial incentives to mine bitcoin are obvious.
But there is a finite supply of bitcoins: they are limited to 21 million in total. To control the currency’s circulation, the supply of new bitcoins is halved every four years, which also halves the miners’ rewards. This has helped ignite fierce competition, attracting an increasing number of bitcoin miners to get into the race, utilizing ever more powerful processing arrays requiring more electricity.
This, the authors say, means that after 2024, bitcoin mining—at least in China—will no longer be cost-effective; the costs of mining the currency will begin to outweigh the rewards. “We have predicted through our model that bitcoin mining operations in China would start to decrease in 2025,” Wang said.
“Due to over-competitive and the reward-halving mechanism of bitcoin, many miners would leave China and move their operations elsewhere in hope to improve their profitability. The decrease in mining activities would lower the associated carbon emissions generated in China.”
So, in at least one sense, bitcoin is self-regulating. Or as Wang puts it, “this is the industry’s natural built-in way of phasing itself out.”
It has until recently proved difficult to determine the total emissions impact of bitcoin mining. Industry advocates have long claimed that miners tend to rely on low-carbon energy due to its relatively low cost, but those claims have been disputed.
Now, using more advanced modeling techniques, Chinese researchers have been able to more accurately estimate the energy uses of specific industry operations. According to the China Emissions Accounts and Datasets platform (CEAD), for example, bitcoin mining accounts for more than 5.4% of emissions from electricity generation in China.
In response, various policy solutions have been suggested, including heavier taxation of bitcoin mining operations. The new research suggests site regulation could be the preferable option. But did Wang think this could result in too many miners moving into areas with abundant renewables, gobbling up energy supply?
“There would be an influx of bitcoin miners into clean-energy regions,” he said. “However, we don’t think that this increase in bitcoin mining operations would place burdens on the local energy grid. The energy-generation infrastructures in the clean-energy regions of China are still being improved and developed … we think that increases in energy generation capacity would outpace the increase in bitcoin mining operations in these regions, which would reduce the potential burdens.”
Even so, with a forecast of 100 million tons of carbon emissions at the industry’s peak, would it not simply be better, in environmental terms, to ban the practice outright?
“We think that simply banning bitcoin mining altogether is not ideal,” Wang said. “Even if bitcoin mining is completely banned, its increasing profitability would drive miners to continue their activities through other measures, such as stealing electricity. That is why we are suggesting a push for moving the miners to clean renewable energy regions would be more ideal.”
Asked whether future cryptocurrency operations could potentially result in the same or similar energy demands as bitcoin, Wang offered a note of optimism.
“Cryptocurrency communities have become increasingly aware of the carbon emissions generated through mining activities,” he said. “As a result … we think the development of these new consensus algorithms would improve the energy efficiency of cryptocurrency mining activities, which would be beneficial for China’s sustainability efforts.”
How are digital technologies changing the way people interact with information? What technologies are there that can fabricate and detect misinformation? And what role does technology have to play in creating a better information environment?
The online information environment (PDF) report addresses these questions, providing an overview of how the internet has changed, and continues to change, the way society engages with scientific information, and how it may be affecting people’s decision-making behaviour – from taking up vaccines to responding to evidence on climate change.
It highlights key challenges for creating a healthy online information environment and makes a series of recommendations for policymakers, academics, and online platforms.
How are digital technologies shaping the information people encounter?
Patterns of information consumption are changing: individuals increasingly look to the online environment for news, and search engines and social media platforms play an increasingly important role in shaping access to information and participation in public debates.
New technologies and uses of data are shaping this online information environment, whether through micro-targeting, filter bubbles, or sophisticated synthetic text, videos and images.
These technologies have great potential and are already being deployed in a range of contexts from entertainment through to education. At the same time, there are increasing concerns about new forms of online harm and erosion of trust that these could enable.
While misinformation isn’t a new problem—and uncertainty and debate are intrinsic parts of science–the internet has drastically magnified the speed and scale at which poor quality information can spread.
The report highlights how online misinformation on scientific issues, like climate change or vaccine safety, can harm individuals and society. It stresses that censoring or removing inaccurate, misleading and false content, whether it’s shared unwittingly or deliberately, is not a silver bullet and may undermine the scientific process and public trust.
Instead, there needs to be a focus on building resilience against harmful misinformation across the population and the promotion of a “healthy” online information environment.
The edge of error
Professor Frank Kelly FRS, Professor of the Mathematics of Systems at the Statistical Laboratory, University of Cambridge, and Chair of the report said, “Science stands on the edge of error and the nature of the scientific endeavour at the frontiers means there is always uncertainty.
“In the early days of the pandemic, science was too often painted as absolute and somehow not to be trusted when it corrects itself, but that prodding and testing of received wisdom is integral to the advancement of science, and society.
“This is important to bear in mind when we are looking to limit scientific misinformation’s harms to society. Clamping down on claims outside the consensus may seem desirable, but it can hamper the scientific process and force genuinely malicious content underground.”….Read more….
CREDIT: PETER AND MARIA HOEY -Plant-based meats claim to offer the sensory experience of real meat at a fraction of the environmental cost. Are they really as green as they say?
Marketed to meat lovers, plant-based burgers like Impossible and Beyond claim to taste like the real thing and to have far lighter environmental footprints. Here’s what the numbers have to say.
If you’re an environmentally aware meat-eater, you probably carry at least a little guilt to the dinner table. The meat on our plates comes at a significant environmental cost through deforestation, greenhouse gas emissions, and air and water pollution — an uncomfortable reality, given the world’s urgent need to deal with climate change.
That’s a big reason there’s such a buzz today around a newcomer to supermarket shelves and burger-joint menus: products that look like real meat but are made entirely without animal ingredients. Unlike the bean- or grain-based veggie burgers of past decades, these “plant-based meats,” the best known of which are Impossible Burger and Beyond Meat, are marketed heavily toward traditional meat-eaters. They claim to replicate the taste and texture of real ground meat at a fraction of the environmental cost.
If these newfangled meat alternatives can fill a large part of our demand for meat — and if they’re as green as they claim, which is not easy to verify independently — they might offer carnivores a way to reduce the environmental impact of their dining choices without giving up their favorite recipes.
That could be a game-changer, some think. “People have been educated a long time on the harms of animal agriculture, yet the percentage of vegans and vegetarians generally remains low,” says Elliot Swartz, a scientist with the Good Food Institute, an international nonprofit organization that supports the development of alternatives to meat. “Rather than forcing people to make behavior changes, we think it will be more effective to substitute products into their diets where they don’t have to make a behavior switch.”
There’s no question that today’s meat industry is bad for the planet. Livestock account for about 15 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions both directly (from methane burped out by cattle and other grazing animals and released by manure from feedlots and pig and chicken barns) and indirectly (largely from fossil fuels used to grow feed crops). Indeed, if the globe’s cattle were a country, their greenhouse gas emissions alone would rank second in the world, trailing only China.
Worse yet, the United Nations projects that global demand for meat will swell by 15 percent by 2031 as the world’s increasing — and increasingly affluent — population seeks more meat on their plates. That means more methane emissions and expansion of pastureland and cropland into formerly forested areas such as the Amazon — deforestation that threatens biodiversity and contributes further to emissions.
Not all kinds of meat animals contribute equally to the problem, however. Grazing animals such as cattle, sheep and goats have a far larger greenhouse gas footprint than non-grazers such as pigs and chickens. In large part that’s because only the former burp methane, which happens as gut microbes digest the cellulose in grasses and other forage.
Pigs and chickens are also much more efficient at converting feed into edible flesh: Chickens need less than two pounds of feed, and pigs need roughly three to five pounds, to put on a pound of body weight. (The rest goes to the energy costs of daily life: circulating blood, moving around, keeping warm, fighting germs and the like.) Compare that to the six to 10 pounds of feed per pound of cow.
As a result, the greenhouse gas emissions of beef cattle per pound of meat are more than six times those of pigs and nearly nine times those of chicken. (Paradoxically, grass-fed cattle — often thought of as a greener alternative to feedlot beef — are actually bigger climate sinners, because grass-fed animals mature more slowly and thus spend more months burping methane.)
Building fake meat
Plant-based meats aim to improve on that dismal environmental performance. Stanford University biochemist Pat Brown, for example, founded Impossible Foods after asking himself what single step he could take to make the biggest difference environmentally. His answer: Replace meat.
To do that, Impossible and its competitors basically deconstruct meat into its component parts, then build an equivalent product from plant-based ingredients. The manufacturers start with plant protein — mostly soy for Impossible, pea for Beyond, and potato, oat or equivalent proteins for others — and add carefully selected ingredients to simulate meat-like qualities. Most include coconut oil for its resemblance to the mouthfeel of animal fats, and yeast extract or other flavorings to add meaty flavors. Impossible even adds a plant-derived version of heme, a protein found in animal blood, to yield an even more meat-like appearance and flavor.
All this requires significant processing, notes William Aimutis, a food protein chemist at North Carolina State University, who wrote about plant-based proteins in the 2022 Annual Review of Food Science and Technology. Soybeans, for example, are typically first milled into flour, and then the oils are removed. The proteins are isolated and concentrated, then pasteurized and spray-dried to yield the relatively pure protein for the final formulation. Every step consumes energy, which raises the question: With all this processing, are these meat alternatives really greener than what they seek to replace?
To answer that question, environmental scientists conduct what’s known as a life cycle analysis. This involves taking each ingredient in the final product — soy protein, coconut oil, heme and so forth — and tracing it back to its origin, logging all the environmental costs involved. In the case of soy protein, for example, the life cycle analysis would include the fossil fuels, water and land needed to grow the soybeans, including fossil fuel emissions from the fertilizer, pesticides and transportation to the processing plant. Then it would add the energy and water consumed in milling, defatting, protein extraction and drying.
Similar calculations would apply to all the other ingredients, and to the final process of assembly and packaging. Put it all together, and you end up with an estimate of the total environmental footprint of the product.
Unfortunately, not all those numbers are readily available. For many products, especially unique ones like the new generation of plant-based meats, product details are secrets closely held by the companies involved. “They will know how much energy they use and where they get their fat and protein from, but they will not disclose that to the general public,” says Ricardo San Martin, a chemical engineer who codirects the Alternative Meats Lab at the University of California, Berkeley. As a result, most life cycle analyses of plant-based meat products have been commissioned by the companies themselves, including both Beyond and Impossible. Outsiders have little way of independently verifying them.
Even so, those analyses suggest that plant-based meats offer clear environmental advantages over their animal-based equivalents. Impossible’s burger, for example, causes just 11 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions that would come from an equivalent amount of beef burger, according to a study the company commissioned from the sustainability consulting firm Quantis. Beyond’s life cycle analysis, conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan, found their burger’s greenhouse gas emissions were 10 percent of those of real beef.
Indeed, when independent researchers at Johns Hopkins University decided to get the best estimates they could by combing through the published literature, they found that in the 11 life cycle analyses they turned up, the average greenhouse gas footprint from plant-based meats was just 7 percent of beef for an equivalent amount of protein. The plant-based products were also more climate-friendly than pork or chicken — although less strikingly so, with greenhouse gas emissions just 37 percent and 57 percent, respectively, of those for the actual meats.
Similarly, the Hopkins team found that producing plant-based meats used less water: 23 percent that of beef, 11 percent that of pork and 24 percent that of chicken for the same amount of protein. There were big savings, too, for land, with the plant-based products using 2 percent that of beef, 18 percent that of pork and 23 percent that of chicken for a given amount of protein. The saving of land is important because, if plant-based meats end up claiming a significant market share, the surplus land could be allowed to revert to forest or other natural vegetation; these store carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and contribute to biodiversity conservation. Other studies show that plant-based milks offer similar environmental benefits over cow’s milk (see Box).
A caution on cultivation methods
Of course, how green plant-based meats actually are depends on the farming practices that underlie them. (The same is true for meat itself — the greenhouse gas emissions generated by a pound of beef can vary more than tenfold from the most efficient producers to the least.) Plant-based ingredients such as palm oil grown in plantations that used to be rainforest, or heavily irrigated crops grown in arid regions, cause much more damage than more sustainably raised crops. And cultivation of soybeans, an important ingredient for some plant-based meats, is a major contributor to Amazon deforestation.
However, for most ingredients it seems likely that even poorly produced plant-based meats are better, environmentally, than meat from well-raised livestock. Plant-based meats need much less soy than would be fed to actual livestock, notes Matin Qaim, an agricultural economist at the University of Bonn, Germany, who wrote about meat and sustainability in the 2022 Annual Review of Resource Economics. “The reason we’re seeing deforestation in the Amazon,” he explains, “is because the demand for food and feed is growing. When we move away from meat and more toward plant-based diets, we need less area in total, and the soybeans don’t necessarily have to grow in the Amazon.”
But green as they are, plant-based meats have a few hurdles to clear before they can hope to replace meat. For one thing, plant-based meats currently cost an average of 43 percent more than the products they hope to replace, according to the Good Food Institute. That helps to explain why plant-based meats account for less than 1 percent of meat sales in the US. Advocates are optimistic that the price will come down as the market develops, but it hasn’t happened yet. And achieving those economies of scale will take a lot of work: Even growing to a mere 6 percent of the market will require a $27 billion investment in new facilities, says Swartz.
Steak hasn’t yet been well done
In addition, all of today’s plant-based meats seek to replace ground-meat products like burgers and chicken nuggets. Whole-muscle meats like steak or chicken breast have a more complex, fibrous structure that the alt-meat companies have not yet managed to mimic outside the lab.
Part of the problem is that most plant proteins are globular in shape, while real muscle proteins tend to form long fibers. To form a textured meat-like product, scientists essentially have to turn golf balls into string, says David Julian McClements, a food scientist at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and an editor of the Annual Review of Food Science and Technology. There are ways to do that, often involving high-pressure extrusion or other complex technology, but so far no one has a whole-muscle product ready for market. (A fungal product, sold for decades in some countries as Quorn, is naturally fibrous, but its sales have never taken off in the US. Other companies are also working on meat substitutes based on fungal proteins.)
McClements is experimenting with another approach to make plant-based bacon: creating separate plant-based analogs of muscle and fat, then 3D-printing the distinctive marbling of the bacon. “I think we’ve got all the elements to put it together,” he says.
Some critics also note that a shift toward plant-based meat may reinforce the industrialization of global food systems in an undesirable way. Most alternative meat products are formulated in factories, and their demand for plant proteins and other ingredients favors Big Agriculture, with its well-documented problems of monoculture, pesticide use, soil erosion and water pollution from fertilizer runoff. Plant-based meats will reduce the impact of these unsustainable farming practices, but they won’t eliminate them unless current farming practices change substantially.
Of course, all the to-do about alternative meats overlooks another dietary option, one with the lowest environmental footprint of all: Simply eat less meat and more beans, grains and vegetables. The additional processing involved in plant-based meats means that they generate 4.6 times more greenhouse gas than beans, and seven times more than peas, per unit of protein, according to the Hopkins researchers. Even traditional, minimally processed plant protein such as tofu beats plant-based meats when it comes to greenhouse gas. Moreover, most people in wealthy countries eat far more protein than they need, so they can simply cut back on their protein consumption without seeking out a replacement.
But that option may not appeal to the meat-eating majority today, which makes alternative meats a useful stopgap. “Would I prefer that people were eating beans and grains and tofu, and lots of fruits and vegetables? Yes,” says Bonnie Liebman, director of nutrition at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, an advocacy organization supporting healthy eating.
“But there are a lot of people who enjoy the taste of meat and are probably not going to be won over by tofu. If you can win them over with Beyond Meat, and that helps reduce climate change, I’m all for it.”
While rivers and reservoirs run dangerously low in Europe, there is catastrophic flooding in Pakistan and the US. Whether it’s a drought or a deluge, being able to accurately forecast rain is important to protect lives and manage water safely.
That has become more difficult in recent decades. Climate change and deforestation have warped Earth’s freshwater cycle, shifting rainfall patterns towards extreme events like severe droughts and downpours. Catastrophic floods have been on the rise globally in the last 50 years and incidences of flash flooding, when torrential rain falls in a very short period, have increased, particularly in tropical countries where high temperatures have made thunderstorms more common.
Developed countries like the UK have invested in satellites and radars for more accurate weather forecasting. These high-tech systems are particularly effective in temperate climates where rainfall typically occurs over several kilometres and moves in wide bands known as weather fronts. Measurements of rainfall over distances of 5 km or greater, which satellites and radars are capable of, are often sufficient for forecasting rain at this scale.
In tropical countries, where climate change is expected to have a far greater impact, systems that can forecast rain at distances of less than a kilometre are needed. This is because of something called convectional rainfall, which is common in the tropics. Convectional rainfall occurs when heated air rises upwards along with water vapour, which condenses to form clouds at a high altitude. These clouds are not carried away by the wind, and so rain falls in the same place it originated.
Systems capable of forecasting convectional rainfall would help authorities give advance warning, preventing deaths and flood damage. They could also help people manage this rainwater to benefit farms, with efficient drainage and irrigation measures.
Most tropical countries fall within low or middle income bands. Forecasting rain over distances smaller than a kilometre is expensive – weather satellites are often not feasible. Dense vegetation and hilly terrain, also common in tropical regions, can profoundly shape local weather by causing humid air to rise and condense, making conventional weather forecasting even trickier. To solve these problems, we set out to develop a cheap way of providing street-by-street forecasting.
AI-based tropical rainfall forecasting
Rainfall is the result of complex interactions between different components of the atmosphere such as temperature, humidity, pressure and wind speed which can be easily measured by sensors. We investigated whether artificial intelligence could use this information to compile a rainfall forecast in northern Malaysia.The forecasting system we developed is essentially an intelligent computer programme that can predict whether it will rain, how intense that rain will be and how long it will last at any location with greater than 90% accuracy at least 96 hours in advance.
We tested its forecasting accuracy against past weather conditions which preceded rain falling. If this algorithm included data from sensors measuring the depth and flow rate of rivers, it could predict whether rain might cause flooding, and if so, when and for how long.The devices used to measure weather conditions can be connected to the internet to form a network that offers regional forecasting. Adding more devices to the network will improve the accuracy of the forecast, which is updated hourly.
Working with University of Malaysia Perlis, we have already created an online network of existing weather sensors that collects data for our algorithm to use. Most of these weather stations are separated by tens of kilometres – too far apart to provide detailed rain forecasting in most areas.But, as more sensors are added, the forecasting system will hopefully one day ensure that vulnerable communities can better prepare for extreme weather events, and build resilience to the rapidly changing climate.
Global climate change is not a future problem. Changes to Earth’s climate driven by increased human emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases are already having widespread effects on the environment: glaciers and ice sheets are shrinking, river and lake ice is breaking up earlier, plant and animal geographic ranges are shifting, and plants and trees are blooming sooner.
Effects that scientists had long predicted would result from global climate change are now occurring, such as sea ice loss, accelerated sea level rise, and longer, more intense heat waves.Some changes (such as droughts, wildfires, and extreme rainfall) are happening faster than scientists previously assessed. In fact, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) — the United Nations body established to assess the science related to climate change — modern humans have never before seen the observed changes in our global climate, and some of these changes are irreversible over the next hundreds to thousands of years.
Scientists have high confidence that global temperatures will continue to rise for many decades, mainly due to greenhouse gases produced by human activities. The IPCC’s Sixth Assessment report, published in 2021, found that human emissions of heat-trapping gases have already warmed the climate by nearly 2 degrees Fahrenheit (1.1 degrees Celsius) since pre-Industrial times (starting in 1750). The global average temperature is expected to reach or exceed 1.5 degrees C (about 3 degrees F) within the next few decades. These changes will affect all regions of Earth.
What’s the difference between climate change and global warming?
The severity of effects caused by climate change will depend on the path of future human activities. More greenhouse gas emissions will lead to more climate extremes and widespread damaging effects across our planet. However, those future effects depend on the total amount of carbon dioxide we emit. So, if we can reduce emissions, we may avoid some of the worst effects.
Climate change is bringing different types of challenges to each region of the country. Some of the current and future impacts are summarized below. These findings are from the Third and Fourth National Climate Assessment Reports, released by the U.S. Global Change Research Program.
Northeast. Heat waves, heavy downpours, and sea level rise pose increasing challenges to many aspects of life in the Northeast. Infrastructure, agriculture, fisheries, and ecosystems will be increasingly compromised. Farmers can explore new crop options, but these adaptations are not cost- or risk-free. Moreover, adaptive capacity, which varies throughout the region, could be overwhelmed by a changing climate. Many states and cities are beginning to incorporate climate change into their planning.
Northwest. Changes in the timing of peak flows in rivers and streams are reducing water supplies and worsening competing demands for water. Sea level rise, erosion, flooding, risks to infrastructure, and increasing ocean acidity pose major threats. Increasing wildfire incidence and severity, heat waves, insect outbreaks, and tree diseases are causing widespread forest die-off.
Southeast. Sea level rise poses widespread and continuing threats to the region’s economy and environment. Extreme heat will affect health, energy, agriculture, and more. Decreased water availability will have economic and environmental impacts.
Midwest. Extreme heat, heavy downpours, and flooding will affect infrastructure, health, agriculture, forestry, transportation, air and water quality, and more. Climate change will also worsen a range of risks to the Great Lakes.
Southwest. Climate change has caused increased heat, drought, and insect outbreaks. In turn, these changes have made wildfires more numerous and severe. The warming climate has also caused a decline in water supplies, reduced agricultural yields, and triggered heat-related health impacts in cities. In coastal areas, flooding and erosion are additional concerns.
Record books across the world had to be rewritten this week as a series of intense heat waves gripped large sections of the northern hemisphere, headlined by a scorching European heat wave that in some cases shattered records by several degrees—here are the most shocking temperature readings.
Coringsby in eastern England rose to 104.5 degrees (40.3C) Tuesday, obliterating the previous all-time record high in the United Kingdom of 101.7 degrees (38.7C) recorded in 2019.
Scotland and Wales also set their own all-time records during the early week heat wave, with Hawarden, Wales, hitting 98.8 degrees (37.1C) Monday and Floors Castle, Scotland, reaching 95.2 degrees (35.1) Tuesday.
Dublin set an all-time record high of 91.6 degrees (33.1C) Monday, which was the hottest temperature ever in Ireland during the month of July and the hottest recorded on the island since June of 1887.
Temperatures also rocketed across much of western continental Europe—Hamburg in northern Germany set an all-time record high of 104 degrees (40.1C) Wednesday, while Abed, Denmark hit 96.6 (35.9C), the hottest ever recorded in the country during July.
A separate heat wave in east Asia sent the mercury soaring there—Zhuoxi, Taiwan, hit 106 degrees Friday, setting a new record for the hottest temperature ever recorded on the island, while Sheng Shui in Hong Kong nearly reached 101 (38.2C), setting a record for the highest July temperature in Hong Kong.
The extreme heat in Europe has largely pushed to the eastern part of the continent, with Ljubljana, Slovenia—the country’s capital—rising to 100 (38C) Saturday, setting a new monthly record for the city.
The extreme heat wave in Europe was caused by a ridge of high pressure that slowly moved up from north Africa, causing stagnant air while suppressing winds and cloud development. Especially in the U.K., the infrastructure is ill-equipped to handle such significant heat, which led to numerous fires across parts of London while airport runways melted in the stifling conditions.
Climate experts say heat waves are among the most immediate and noticeable effects of climate change, and are likely to become more intense and more frequent in the future.It’s not clear at this point how many deaths will be attributed to the heat waves, but the number could be considerable. More than 2,000 deaths have been confirmed on the Iberian Peninsula alone from heat-related issues.
The U.S. also dealt with sweltering conditions this week, with more than 100 million Americans living in areas under heat alerts, but all-time records were not broken in most cases. Salt Lake City, however, tied its all-time record high Sunday, hitting 107 degrees.