The Heatwave in Numbers
3rd August 2022
As you already know, Europe witnessed unprecedented temperatures in July, wreaking havoc to biodiversity and infrastructure. A now viral clip of meteorologist John Hammond discussing the heatwave with GB News pundits went viral after onlookers compared the presenters’ facetious response to scenes from climate-comedy ‘Don’t Look Up’.
Unfortunately, John’s dire predictions were proven correct.
Below we explore the impact and significance of the heatwave in 12 striking figures.
10 — Scientists say the climate crisis made the UK’s extreme heatwave 10 times more likely.
12 — Heatwaves are projected to become 12 times more frequent by 2040, compared to pre-warming levels.
0.5 — Economists and climate experts estimate that heatwaves on average have lowered annual G.D.P growth across Europe by as much as 0.5%.) in the past 10 years.
£100m — It’s believed the heatwave could cost Britain around £100m extra in extra electricity caused by running electric fans and air conditioning units.
66% — This is part of a broader problem. The UK has only recorded 66% of its expected rainfall between March and June of this year, causing slow crop growth.
1600 — According to the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) approximately 1600 people in the UK died because of heatwaves in 2021, and 2500 in 2020.
1000 — It’s estimated the July 2022 heatwave caused an excess 1000 deaths in just 3 days.
41 — The number of properties in London destroyed by fires.
2,600 — The number of calls for help to the London Ambulance Service, compared with a normal daily average of 350.
33 — A wildfire in Norfolk’s Wild Ken Reserve caused 33 hectares of thorny scrub to go up in flames, destroying the habitats of turtle doves, grasshopper warblers and reed warblers in the process.
7,186 — The number of calls the RSPCA received to its helpline on Monday of the heatwave, compared to 4,416 on the previous Sunday. There were reports of Swifts falling out of the sky in London, and Oxfordshire Wildlife Rescue reached capacity.
10% — The UK Jet Zero Strategy, which aims to decarbonize the aviation industry, plans to mandate that at least 10% of sustainable aviation fuels be blended into traditional aviation fuels by 2030. Climate campaigners say that the plan is predicated on decades of growing demand that is incompatible with the climate emergency.
And then there are words. UN Chief, Antonio Guttierez, warned last week that humanity faces a “collective suicide” over the climate crisis.
In light of this, the lacklustre commitment from the Conservative candidates competing to become Prime Minister is striking. Climate change has been largely absent from televised debates between Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak, receiving only 2 minutes of attention in Monday’s last debate. It is clear that if we do not address the climate crisis, it will still find more and more creative ways of causing destruction.
Marine and Forest Conservation
- Researchers on an expedition in the Amazon River Delta have found mangroves growing in freshwater — a phenomenon never before documented in deltas or coastal mangroves anywhere else in the world.
- Since the 1960s, 95% of Tasmania's giant kelp, a vital habitat for seals, seahorses, lobsters and fish, has been destroyed by warm waters. However, worldwide restoration efforts provide hope that kelp forests can potentially be brought back to life.
- Statistics from the GOGL Association show that off-grid solar lighting products, such as those distributed by SolarAid, helped avoid 90 million tonnes of CO2e since 2010. That’s the equivalent of taking 24 coal plants offline for a year.
- Finnish researchers have installed the world’s first fully working “sand battery” which can store green power for months at a time. The current status-quo, lithium batteries, are expensive and carry a large carbon footprint. If sand batteries can be scaled up, it could make a big difference.
Food and Agriculture
- Plant-based meat is now cheaper than conventional meat in the Netherlands. The Good Food Institute believes that in order to deliver on their full potential to tackle the climate crisis, sustainable proteins must cost the same or less than conventional meat.
- The Sustainable Food Trust released ‘Feeding Britain from the Ground Up’, an ambitious report that presents a compelling vision for what a self-sustaining UK food production system would look like, and how we might bring it about. The plan is exciting and ambitious, and would result in huge changes to land use, diets, and agricultural production.
Education & Advocacy
- ClientEarth won its case against the UK Government’s inadequate net zero strategy, with the High Court ruling that the strategy is in breach of the Climate Change Act and must be strengthened.
- The UN passed a historic resolution recognising the human right to a healthy environment, alongside other universal human rights such as the right to education, freedom of movement, free speech, and prohibition of torture.
Climate Resilient Communities
- Unprecedented heat, combined with one of the driest winters ever is forcing European farmers to deploy methods usually suggested to farmers in East Africa. While tragic, the knowledge sharing demonstrates resilience and creativity.
- There are now 320 cities in Europe with active Low Emission Zones (LEZs), marking a 40% increase since 2019. Oliver Lord, the UK Head of the Clean Cities Campaign applauded the news, arguing that “clean air zones are one of the most effective ways to tackle toxic air in our cities”.