Why Brazil should also worry about heat waves in Europe

“It is evidently a mistake to think that this heat wave is a local process in Europe”, says climate scientist Alexandre Costa, who sees a strong relationship between global warming and the recent tragedy of the rains in Pernambuco.

The heat wave that hits Western Europe has impressed by the continuous disturbances in everyday life: impact on people’s body and health, high demand for water and energy to cool environments at a time when these resources are under pressure, in addition to fires that are difficult to control. in forests ? a phenomenon now witnessed in urban areas.

This Wednesday (20/07), when the temperature in London reached a record 40.3°C, local firefighters had the most called day since the Second World War.

This week also marked the first time in history that the British had official records above 40°C.

The Met Office, the UK weather service, links the current heat wave to climate change caused by global human action.

“The odds of observing 40°C in the UK are 10 times more likely under current conditions than under a climate that has not had human influence. despite promises to reduce emissions [de gás carbônico]”, says Nikos Christidis, scientist at the service.

Western Europe has contributed more to the goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions – crucial to halting global warming – compared to other developed countries. But, as former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon once said, “Climate change does not respect borders.”

“It is evidently a mistake to think that this heat wave is a local process in Europe. We have had extreme heat events happening all over the world, especially during the summer periods of the respective hemispheres”, says the climate scientist and professor at UECE (State University of Ceará) Alexandre Costa.

In Brazil, the effects are already being noticed.

In recent years, unusual situations have been linked to climate change by experts: a sandstorm in the interior of São Paulo, the largest flooding ever recorded in the Rio Negro (AM) and capitals under dark skies in the middle of the afternoon because of smoke from a fire in the Amazon. .

A report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) points out that the Brazilian semi-arid region, which encompasses much of the Northeast and northern Minas Gerais, is already facing more intense droughts and higher temperatures, which is accelerating the process of desertification.

Alexandre Costa says that the recent tragedy of the rains in Pernambuco, which left almost 130 dead between the end of May and the beginning of June, has strong evidence of a relationship with climate change.

“Global warming not only facilitates the occurrence of heat waves, but also droughts, forest fires and large floods because we have a warmer atmosphere and therefore more capacity to store water vapor and, therefore, with more ability to produce precipitation extremes.”

Francisco Eliseu Aquino, climatologist at the Department of Geography and Polar and Climate Center at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), says that, in the southern hemisphere, the heat waves of the last two decades are more frequent and last longer.

“That’s why last summer we had record temperatures in Paraguay, Argentina, Uruguay, Rio Grande do Sul and, considering that 2022 will be the sixth hottest year of this century, this sequence of rising hot years allows more hot flashes.”

“A warmer planet generates disturbance, change in the density of the atmosphere.”

The IPCC released a report in April pointing out that this rise in thermometers will cause the planet to be hit by “unprecedented heat waves, terrifying storms and widespread water shortages”.

To prevent that from happening, the world must limit the global rise to below 1.5°C this century, the researchers say.

According to Aquino, if the current rate of emission of greenhouse gases and deforestation is maintained together with global environmental agreements that do not effectively face the climate crisis, these scenarios should intensify even more.

Alexandre Costa states that the first part of the sixth volume of the IPCC report, released last year, already highlighted the change in the frequency and intensity of extreme events.

A heat wave that typically happened every 10 years is nearly three times more frequent. And even more intense ones (although rare, which occurred every 50 years) would now be five times more common than in the pre-industrial period.

“The process is very clear: the probability of extreme heat waves occurring increases as the temperature increases.”

The next few years are critical, according to the IPCC report, because if emissions are not reduced by 2030, it will be virtually impossible to limit global warming by the end of this century.

– Text originally published in https://www.bbc.com/portuguese/internacional-62246505

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