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While the world’s climate is hot and getting hotter, the US government is frozen in time.
Runways are melting in the UK. Lakes are drying up in the US. Fires are raging all over.
But the federal government is stuck in amber, blocked by a Supreme Court that pines for a pre-industrial age, insisting on new laws for the Environmental Protection Agency to fight climate change, and beholden to a custom in the Senate that makes any new climate law all but impossible.
One Democratic senator – Joe Manchin, from the coal-producing state of West Virginia – held the power to bless or destroy some climate action this year. He chose destruction.
Get used to these heat waves
Europe’s second major heat wave of this summer is its worst so far.
The UK could record its highest ever temperature if, as expected, it logs 40 degrees Celsius (about 104 Fahrenheit) on Tuesday.
Wildfires are destroying areas in France and Spain.
Brits more used to the cool and damp have lived without air conditioning, something they might need to rethink since this week’s heat wave is a preview of the world’s new climate.
As CNN Senior Climate Editor Angela Fritz wrote last week, the weather the UK is experiencing now was actually part of a hypothetical climate change forecast prepared by the UK government. It’s coming true decades earlier than predicted.
Europe’s problem is the world’s problem
I asked Fritz why Americans should be looking at the weather in Europe. She sent me these reasons why we should expect more hot than cold as the climate changes – and why our way of life is compounding the problem:
- Heat and climate change. Heat is one of those things that is irrefutably made worse by climate change. Burning fossil fuels traps heat in our atmosphere, which increases temperatures, which leads to more intense and more deadly heat waves.
- It’s happening here too. What’s playing out in Europe right now is remarkably similar to what we saw last year in the Pacific Northwest – a region that is used to cooler weather besieged by record-breaking heat. Hundreds of people died in the Northwest last summer, and we’ve already seen reports that more than 1,000 people died of heat-related illness in Spain and Portugal in the past several days.
- Humans caused this.