The effects of climate change have arrived in Europe – our way of life will have to change

Editorial: The weather events of the past week add humility to western calls for action – let’s hope for global urgency in the task ahead

Friday 16 July 2021 21:30
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<p>A van crushed by the torrents is wedged against a tree after the floods wreaked havoc in Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler, western Germany</p>

A van crushed by the torrents is wedged against a tree after the floods wreaked havoc in Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler, western Germany

The floods in parts of western Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium have dominated the headlines, not least because they have cost 120 lives and counting, an extraordinary figure for a weather event in some of the most advanced societies in the world. Nature has proved more powerful, once again, disrupting power supplies and mobile phone signals as well as destroying property. It is the same kind of phenomenon that has been observed around the world – the burning of California, Australia, even Siberia in recent times, for example.

Elsewhere, communities in low-lying states such as Bangladesh, the Maldives and micro-states in the Pacific are also having to live with the consequences of the warming of the planet. Mercifully, there are few voices now suggesting that climate change is some kind of hoax, or that the increase in emissions of carbon dioxide are not to do with human activity, or which suggest that trying to restrain greenhouse gas release is just a Chinese plot to destroy the west. If proof that warmer air can carry more moisture is required, it is only necessary to look out of the window. 

The intellectual argument for action to help prevent further catastrophic climate change, in other words, has been made – and won – long ago. People in the west generally accept the reality of what is happening, and increasingly, if sometimes reluctantly, agree that our way of life will have to change if we are serious about the climate crisis. The scientific evidence and reasoning is robust, and widely respected. Only the likes of Donald Trump are still denying and evading the facts. 

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