It would not be entirely correct to say that these events are directly to blame for the climate crisis, true. Because it has always been hot and there have always been fires. Also a hundred years ago, before human activity distort earth’s climate. But here the basic argument is different. As corroborated by hundreds of scientific studies, the climate crisis is the perfect powder keg for these extreme events to be more and more frequent, intense and lasting. extreme heat now comes more frequently that a hundred years ago and leaves higher and higher temperatures. In the same way, in an increasingly hot and dry climate there is a greater chance that when a fire starts the fire spreads more voraciously and quickly.
According to the latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel of Experts on Climate Change (IPCC), the largest analysis to date on the present and future of the climate crisis, an extreme heat wave that in the past it would have happened every 50 yearsyes, now it is nearly five times more likely let it happen In such an episode, thermometers are now also more likely to rise to 1.2 degrees more than a century ago would have been considered normal. Experts also warn that, if we continue to emit as we have done up to now and raise global thermometers by two degrees on average, in just a few decades these extreme heat waves will be 13 times more likely and will leave maxims of almost three degrees higher that now.
In the case of Spain, the reports warn that, together with the other Mediterranean countries, we are in one of the “hot spots” of global warming. In this region, a global temperature rise of two degrees could translate into a increase of between four and seven degrees in temperature half. If so, by the end of the century Spanish summers could become times of extreme heat. “In a more or less near future, heat waves in Spain could leave maximums of 50 degrees,” explains meteorologist Rubén del Campo, spokesman for the State Meteorological Agency (AEMET). “The hottest summer so far will seem ‘cool’ by the end of the century“, predicts the expert.
The last week’s data corroborate that the heat of these days, far from entering within the normal values for the summer, borders on the exceptional. In Madrid, for example, a few days ago there was the hottest day ever recorded in the last hundred years (the previous absolute records were from 2019 and 2021). In the city, moreover, It’s been four days now that the temperature hasn’t dropped below 25 degrees. Not even at night. In Cordovait is the first time that the thermometers do not drop below 42 degrees during eight days in a row. Such a situation had not been observed since records began. In Navacerradaat almost 2,000 meters of altitude, this week they have reached highs of 33.1 degrees. Never in its 75-year history has this mountain observatory in the Sierra de Guadarrama recorded such a high temperature.
to understand the reason for heat waves and fires that are currently plaguing Spain, we must go to the origin. The extreme heat of these days, for example, can be explained by the arrival of a extremely warm air mass. But going to the origin of the problem, we must also talk about how the continuous injection of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere has altered the global climate, has triggered unprecedented global warming and has triggered a wide range of climate extremes around the world. In the case of fire wave more or less the same thing happens. It may be that the direct cause of the fires is human action, but to understand why they spread so quickly, it is necessary to talk about structural problems such as soil ariditythe poor forest area management or the lack of investment in prevention issues.
In some cases, the climate crisis is the fuel that feeds the flames. In others, however, it is directly the spark that lights the fire. Just one year ago, for example, around this time, Canada was experiencing an unprecedented heat wave, with temperatures above 45 degrees. A study of that event concluded that extreme heat episode it would have been “almost impossible” without the climate crisis. Or put another way, if the planet’s climate had not been altered, that heat wave would have been 150 times less likely.
Another equally illustrative example occurred in 2019, also around this time, when northern Europe experienced an unprecedented heat wave. In the Netherlands and Belgium were reached 40 degrees by first time since records exist. An analysis of that event concluded that these temperatures are now 100 times more likely than a century ago due to advancing global warming. If not for this phenomenon, the study points out, the temperatures reached during that heat wave could have been up to three degrees lower to those registered.
“Heat waves are unilaterally and unequivocally related to climate change”
“Heat waves are unilaterally and unequivocally related to climate change“, points an analysis of the University of Oxford and Imperial College London published on the platform World Weather Attribution (WWA). Similarly, there is also scientific consensus that droughts are becoming more common and severe in areas such as the Mediterranean and that all this, in turn, is creating a more favorable climate for increasingly severe fires to break out. The climate crisis, then, is the Background curtain behind all the climatic extremes that mark the present and that, if they continue like this, could configure a climatic catastrophe in the future.