Europe’s On Fire. This Is A Genuine Climate Emergency.

climate change
Europe’s On Fire. This Is A Genuine Climate Emergency.

Last week, Sen. Joe Manchin — millionaire coal baron of the people — plunged a dagger into the Biden administration’s plans to address global warming, which is a real thing that’s happening in the world. Yet, all is not lost. Biden is considering, presumably with all due haste, declaring a national climate emergency.

PREVIOUSLY: Hello! I'm Joe Manchin And I'm Once Again Screwing Everyone For No Reason!

From the Washington Post:

If an emergency is invoked, it could empower the Biden administration in its efforts to reduce carbon emissions and foster cleaner energy.

Two of the individuals with knowledge of the discussions said also they expect the president to announce a slew of additional actions aimed at curbing planet-warming emissions. The exact scope and timing of any announcements remain in flux.

We’ve definitely reached the emergency stage of the climate crisis we’ve ignored for decades. Last year, in Oregon, we got smacked with a heat dome that sent temperatures soaring to a record 116 degrees. If there’s anyone less prepared than northwesterners for such extreme heat, it’s the Brits. They drink their tea piping hot and even put milk in it! However, Tuesday the United Kingdom recorded a temperature of 104.4 degrees at London’s Heathrow Airport. This breaks 2019’s previous record of 101.8 degrees. (Yes, I know I’m converting everything to Fahrenheit.) It’s so hot John Steed might start dressing like Emma Peel.

London’s Luton airport suspended all flights yesterday after the extreme heat caused its only runway to “melt” — not as melodramatically as the Wicked Witch of the West but the tarmac was no longer stable for aircraft. That’s hot.

The Met Office issued an extreme heat warning for most of central, northern, and southeast England. Road surfaces have warped, and rail lines could buckle. People are advised to stay in their homes, most of which don’t have air conditioning.

The record heat wave is melting all of Europe. Wildfires have prompted evacuations across Spain, Portugal, Greece, and France. A “monster octopus” fire in France has scorched an area twice the size of Paris. Northern Italy is experiencing a drought. Temperatures are breaking triple digits in Spain and the British Isles. This isn’t entirely unprecedented. There was a record-breaking heat wave back in 2015, and according to, "a particularly intense European heatwave in 2003 helped cause probably the hottest summer in Europe since 1500 AD and led to a reported death toll exceeding 70,000 during the summer of 2003.”

Climate activist Greta Thunberg is correct when she says this isn’t simply a “new normal” to which we all must adjust. She tweeted: "The climate crisis will continue to escalate and get worse as long as we stick our heads in the sand and prioritise profit and greed over people and planet. We are still sleepwalking towards the edge."

Scientists agree this is a disturbing trend:

Heat waves in Europe, they say, are increasing in frequency and intensity at a faster rate than almost any other part of the planet, including the Western United States.

Just five percent of homes in Britain have air conditioning because, like in the Pacific Northwest, summers were traditionally mild.What’s worse is that British homes were designed to cope with frigid winters not sweltering summers. Office buildings are more likely to have air conditioning, but remote work during the pandemic resulted in a small demand for cooling systems in the home. The perhaps tragic irony is that air conditioning isn’t great for the environment, and dealing with the immediate impact of global warming could result in further contributing to global warming.

The heat wave’s death toll in Europe is steadily mounting. Only cooling temperatures and rain can end this, but that’s a temporary fix. The long term solution will require a global effort, and a United States that’s not beholden to a single West Virginia senator’s personal interests.

[New York Times]

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. Once, he wrote a novel called “Mahogany Slade,” which you should read or at least buy. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."


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