UK weather: Heat is an invisible killer – we ignore the rising temperature at our peril

The heatwave pictures you see on the front of the newspapers are usually of people having fun in the sun.

We make light of the conditions but heat is a killer.

More than 2,500 people died in the three brief heatwaves of last summer.

And there’s no doubt that the current persistently high temperatures are claiming the lives of many more.

Our climate is changing. Ten of the UK’s warmest years have all been since 2002.

By 2050 it’s feared 5,000 people a year will die as average summer temperatures rise another 4C and heatwaves become more extreme and more frequent.

Our homes just aren’t built for the heat. Building regulations in the UK assume a benign maritime climate. Neither too hot, nor too cold.

But a fifth of the population is sleeping – and often now working – in houses that overheat even in normal summer temperatures.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

People divided on UK heatwave

And streets are exposed to the baking sun, rarely shaded by a canopy of trees, particularly in more deprived neighbourhoods.

In cities that creates an “urban heat island”, with temperatures a potentially lethal two or three degrees warmer than surrounding rural areas.

It’s not good for health, nor for productivity.

A team at the London School of Economics estimated the cost of a warm year to the capital’s economy was around £1.7bn and suggested that a siesta may have to become the new norm.

But despite all the costs, the government doesn’t have a cross-departmental plan for adapting to the heat.

Its climate advisors warned in June that cutting carbon emissions is crucial to preventing the worst impacts.

Subscribe to ClimateCast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or Spreaker

But some global warming is inevitable and Britain must adapt, they said.

Adding shutters to windows to keep houses cool would be a cheap and easy start.

Infrastructure, like our buckling train tracks, also needs to be upgraded to cope with higher temperatures. That’s expensive, but doing nothing will end up costing more.

Heat is an invisible killer. Old people dying alone in homes that have become ovens.

A flood is far more obvious and dramatic.

But we ignore the rising temperature at our peril.

Sky News has launched the first daily prime time news show dedicated to climate change.

The Daily Climate Show is broadcast at 6.30pm and 9.30pm Monday to Friday on Sky News, the Sky News website and app, on YouTube and Twitter.

Hosted by Anna Jones, it follows Sky News correspondents as they investigate how global warming is changing our landscape and how we all live our lives.

Source link