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It’s not just England: A list of all the climate disasters the world is facing right now

From extreme heat in Europe and China to flooding in Australia to droughts in the Western U.S.—and more.

It’s not just England: A list of all the climate disasters the world is facing right now
[Photos: Andriy Onufriyenko/Getty Images, Chin Heng Teoh/EyeEm/Getty Images, Constantine Johnny/Getty Images]

In a recent climate PSA, the U.K. Meteorological Office mocked up a weather forecast from the year 2050, warning that temperatures could hit 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit), extreme heat for a country where the average high in July historically has been around 21 degrees Celsius (or 70 degrees Fahrenheit). “Thankfully, this isn’t a real forecast,” the fake weatherman concluded. But this Sunday, the actual weather forecast was worse: The U.K.’s first extreme-heat warning predicted that temperatures could climb to more than 40 degrees Celsius (105 degrees Fahrenheit) on Monday and Tuesday, and cautioned people against taking the train to work; an airport was forced to shut down because the heat damaged the runway.

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The heat in England is just one example of extreme climate impacts happening faster than expected. While climate scientists talk about cutting emissions by 2050 to avoid the “worst impacts” of climate change, impacts already exist in 2022. Here are just some of the most notable climate-linked disasters happening around the world in the past few weeks.

  • In Spain, where temperatures are also soaring, more than 30 wildfires are now burning. And south of Bordeaux, France, large wildfires forced more than 14,000 people to evacuate.
  • In China, where temperatures exceeded 107 degrees Fahrenheit in some areas last week, buckling roads and melting the roof of a museum, thousands of people also have been evacuated after extreme rainfall; at least 18 people have died in the flooding.
  • Sydney, Australia, has had the wettest July on record. Tens of thousands of people in houses near a river were forced to evacuate; and in some cases, it was the third or fourth time they’ve had to leave their homes because of flooding in less than two years.
  • In early July, a glacier collapsed on a 11,000-foot-high mountain in the Italian Alps, killing 10 hikers. A 2019 study, which reported that the glacier shrank 30% between 2004 and 2015, had predicted that it would be lost in 25 to 30 years.
  • As the “megadrought” in the Western U.S. continues, Lake Mead, which supplies water to 25 million people, has shrunk to a historic low and may eventually be too low for the Hoover Dam to produce hydropower. The Great Salt Lake in Utah is at a record low, threatening Salt Lake City with toxic dust storms. All of Central California—where farms grow roughly 25% of the nation’s food—is now in an “exceptional drought.”
  • In the Bay Area, a rapid-transit train derailed in late June as tracks warped in high temperatures. The track was designed for temperatures up to 115 degrees, but the metal heated up to 140 degrees.
  • In Yosemite National Park, a wildfire threatened hundreds of 2,000-year-old sequoias, though crews were able to save them. In the last seven years, fires have killed thousands of sequoias, an unprecedented number, in the Sierra Nevada.
  • In Africa, years of continuing drought linked to climate change have led to famine, a crisis exacerbated by the war in Ukraine as food imports drop. In Somalia alone, more than 7 million people face food insecurity, and 250,000 face starvation.

On Monday, at a climate conference in Berlin, UN Secretary-General António Guterres listed some of the crises and warned that humanity is at a turning point: “We have a choice,” he said. “Collective action or collective suicide. It is in our hands.”

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About the author

Adele Peters is a staff writer at Fast Company who focuses on solutions to some of the world's largest problems, from climate change to homelessness. Previously, she worked with GOOD, BioLite, and the Sustainable Products and Solutions program at UC Berkeley

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