Climate change is a local and global threat

From HGS to Phoenix, Arizona, the threat from climate change is getting greater. Jonathan Waxman, chair of HGS REACH, explains

In July 2021, Hampstead Garden  Suburb was hit by a flash flood  that saw Kingsley Way, Norrice Lea and other roads a foot deep in water within two hours. Many houses were flooded. In summer 2022, temperatures exceeded 40ºC in the UK for the first time in recent history. This summer the world experienced record heat waves across Europe, the US and Asia.

Ocean surface temperatures exceeded previous records by substantial amounts, bringing large-scale damage to marine eco-systems. 

Image: Pixabay

In the week of 22 July, Rome hit a new record temperature of 42ºC while Palermo in Sicily hit 47ºC, breaking the previous record of 45ºC from 1999. In Turpan, China, the temperature exceeded 52ºC. 

In Phoenix, Arizona the daily high temperature exceeded 43ºC for 19 consecutive days and for days, the lowest temperature didn’t fall below 32ºC.  The world experienced its hottest days and weeks ever this July. By a big margin. We may have been immune to it in our wet and mild summer, but that must not allow us to be lulled into a false sense of security.  The Antarctic, the sleeping giant of our ice world, is showing signs of responding quickly to global warming. The ice that melts over the southern summer is not rebuilding as the continent heads into winter; the loss appears to be pretty massive.

Photo: Adam Cohn/Flickr

These are worrying, but perhaps not surprising, statistics. We have been heating our planet up for the past 200 years by burning fossil fuels which add carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. The rate at which we have been doing so has been growing, with massive CO2 emissions in the past 30 years.

It is plausibly the warmest our planet has been for 120,000 years.

However, this is not a reason to give up on tackling climate change. This is not the end of global warming: as things stand, we are in the foothills of this  change right now. We can expect temperatures exceeding 50ºC in Italy and the desertification of Southern Europe if we stay on our current path.  

The solution is obvious, but not easy

We continue to heat our world by burning large quantities of fossil fuels and increasing the carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in our atmosphere.  The solution to climate change is obvious if not easy: we must replace all our fossil fuel burning with clean energy. And this is something in which we in HGS should play our part. 

The single most important thing any individual can do to eliminate some of the carbon emissions that they produce is to replace their gas boiler with an air or water heat pump.  HGS Reach will be organising a heat pump hackathon this winter. We will help you get the data from your home to help you calculate how you can switch to a heat pump. We would like 400 homes to participate.  

It will require a small amount of work on your part, but it will help you understand the heating requirement of and CO2 emissions from your home and to think through whether some additional insulation measures might help you and be cost-effective.  

If you’d like to contact me, email  Stay tuned…

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Article created:22nd September 2023    Last updated:1st November 2023