Frightening highs of over 40oC is the reality in southern Europe. Parts of southern Iberia have been labelled as ‘extreme-risk’ zones, with nearly 75% of the territory of the Spanish state being considered ‘at risk’.
These temperatures are record-breaking, almost unchartered territory for emergency services and the population at large. In Sicily, temperatures have reached 47oC and Greece has experienced the hottest weekend in 50 years.
These extremely high temperatures, which are becoming increasingly more common, have catastrophic consequences. After the driest Spring on record in the Spanish state, a harsh rationing of water is a real possibility. In Italy, workers are beginning to ask to be furloughed because the extreme temperatures are literally killing them. Extreme heat has been claimed as a cause of death for five people there, so far. As I write, the fires of Rhodes are devastating the island and forcing the displacement of thousands of people, fires of a magnitude not possible without the extreme heat.
Although it is true that there have always been odd years where temperatures have been higher or lower than usual, the frequency in which hot and cold records are shattered leaves no doubt that behind these high temperatures are not only climatological accidents but climate change.
These local spiked heatwaves are part of a worrying upwards trend in temperatures around the globe. Long ago thought of as a future threat, climate change is now a present emergency.
Thousands of young people, in Britain and internationally, have been protesting and taking part in ‘climate strikes’ in recent years, demanding action against climate change – many demanding ‘system change’.
The truth is that climate change cannot be solved by the profit-based capitalist system, based on competition. Huge investment is needed to develop renewable energy production to replace fossil fuels, but capitalists only invest when they can be sure of making a profit.
By bringing the big energy companies, industry and the banks into democratic public ownership, the huge resources currently owned and controlled by a handful of individuals could be put to use as part of a plan, not to make maximum profits but to stop global heating.
Socialist change internationally is necessary for the level of global collaboration needed to solve the climate crisis. Join the Socialist Party to help us fight for it.