Xinhua Headlines: Heatwaves scorch North Hemisphere, ring alarm about global warming

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BEIJING, July 24 (Xinhua) -- Since June, temperatures across the Northern Hemisphere have continued to rise, and many countries, gripped by the most intense heatwave, have issued high temperature warnings. Forecasts show that 2023 is likely to be the hottest year ever.

"Globally, June 2023 was the warmest June since directly measured instrumental records began in 1850, breaking the record previously set in June 2022," according to a study published recently by Berkeley Earth, a California-based research organization for climate science.

Noting that the global mean temperature this June was 1.47 degrees Celsius above the 1850-1900 average, the organization said 2023 is "now likely to become a new record warm year (81 percent chance)."


The globe is heating up. Simultaneous heatwaves are suffocating the United States, much of Europe and parts of Asia.

A major heatwave is forecast to hit much of the contiguous United States during late July into early August as mid-level high pressure builds over much of the western and central regions, according to the U.S. National Weather Service. Excessive heat alerts are in place in several states including California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.

Extreme heat warnings have also been issued across Europe since last week. In Italy, red alerts were in force from Wednesday in all but four of the country's 27 major cities. Temperatures during the hottest part of the day were considered a threat to even young and healthy individuals.

Extremely high temperatures were recorded in at least a dozen European countries this week, including Albania, Croatia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain and Switzerland.


Amid high temperatures, drought and heavy rains have appeared across the globe, leading to wildfires and floods.

The Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre said Thursday that there were 887 active wildfires nationwide and the number of out-of-control wildfires was 549. The number of wildfires in the country so far this year has reached 4,308, devouring about 111,000 square km of land.

In Spain, a wildfire on the Canary Island of La Palma has burned over 3,500 hectares of land and destroyed around 20 houses and buildings. Raging wildfires in Greece have destroyed forests and forced people to evacuate, with authorities warning further sweltering heat in coming days. In Türkiye, wildfires broke out in the southern and western provinces over the weekend as summer heat grips a large swathe of the country.

In the U.S. state of Pennsylvania, at least five people were killed, and two others were still missing following a flash flood in the past weeks. The local police department stated that the area was hit by a torrential rainstorm which caused flash flooding in several areas throughout the township.

In Canada, a province-wide state of emergency was declared in the eastern province of Nova Scotia on Saturday in response to severe flooding.

In Afghanistan, rainstorms and flooding swept parts of eastern Wardak province late Saturday.

China's State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters on Saturday launched a level-IV emergency flood control response as heavy rains are forecast to lash northern parts of the country.


The massive swathe of extreme heat is not only taking a toll on millions of people, but also driving up costs for businesses and putting pressure on the economy.

Three people have died in wildfire-fighting operations in Canada recently. In the United States, a tourist died last week at a trailhead in Death Valley National Park amid extreme heat.

The number of deaths from extreme heat "is set to rise year-on-year," WHO's Regional Director for Europe Hans Kluge said.

The World Meteorological Organization is calling on governments to adopt heat action plans to protect "hundreds of thousands of people dying from preventable heat-related causes each year."

Japan continued to issue heatstroke alerts with near-record high temperatures baking many parts of the country, as temperatures soared to nearly 40 degrees Celsius in many regions including Tokyo.

"Residents in different regions should choose suitable ways to reduce the impact of high temperatures on themselves, such as going to relatively cool places to avoid heat, and vulnerable groups should prepare heatstroke medication," said Song Yuqin, professor of the College of Environmental Sciences and Engineering of Peking University.

In addition to the human toll, the heat also has an impact on economic activity. Recent studies have shown that extreme heat could cost the United States 100 billion U.S. dollars annually in terms of productivity loss alone. If left unchecked, it could sap away one-sixth of global economic activity by the year 2100, CNN has reported.

The losses are steepest in sectors such as agriculture and construction, but no industry or business is immune, Chris Lafakis, Moody's Analytics' director of economic research, was quoted by CNN as saying.

U.S. Special Envoy for Global Food Security Cary Fowler said recently that he was "very concerned" about what El Nino could mean for crop production and the resulting impacts on global food security.


"Since 2021, the extreme disasters brought by climate change have been rampant globally, especially the extreme high temperatures and droughts that occurred globally in 2022," said Xu Huaqing, director of China's National Center for Climate Change Strategy and International Cooperation.

The wildfires in Canada are exceptional by any measure and this wouldn't be happening without the heatwaves and the lack of moisture, said Paul Beckwith, a Canadian climate system scientist.

"Beyond adapting to our new reality this summer, we must look to the years and decades ahead," Kluge said. "There is a desperate and urgent need for regional and global action to effectively tackle the climate crisis, which poses an existential threat to the human race."

Kelly Herbinson, co-executive director of the Mojave Desert Land Trust, said the international community should work together to deal with climate change, noting that as the effects of climate change become increasingly apparent, the collaboration of groups around the globe is also growing in importance.

Faced with unprecedented difficulties in global climate governance, no country can independently address this series of challenges, nor can any country retreat to a self-isolated island, said Xu. "Global action, global response, and global cooperation must be carried out." Enditem

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