“Scorching temperatures are engulfing large parts of the Northern hemisphere, while devastating floods triggered by relentless rainfall have disrupted lives and livelihoods, underscoring the urgent need for more climate action,” the UN World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said Friday.
The UN weather agency reports that June 2023 experienced the warmest global average temperature on record, and heat waves persist into July.
Torrential rains and floods have resulted in dozens of fatalities and affected millions in the United States, Japan, China and India, reports the WMO, calling for “greater climate action” to deal with the “extreme weather.”
“The extreme weather – an increasingly frequent occurrence in our warming climate – is having a major impact on human health, ecosystems, economies, agriculture, energy and water supplies,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas of Finland.
“We have to step up efforts to help society adapt to what is, unfortunately, becoming the new normal,” urged the head of the WMO, an intergovernmental organization with a membership of 193 member states and territories.
The WMO is ringing alarm bells for preparedness as thousands of people each year succumb to heatwaves, among the deadliest of natural hazards. Currently, a heatwave is parching the southern United States, the U.S. National Weather Service reports, saying some locations could register all-time temperature records.
California’s Death Valley, among the hottest places on the planet, hit close to the record temperature on Sunday with a recorded 128 Fahrenheit (53.3 Celsius).
“The heat wave across the West and Southern tier of the U.S. continues early this week, focusing across the Desert Southwest and Four Corners region into Texas and south Florida. Expect possible record high temperatures and very dangerous conditions,” two U.S. forecasters wrote Monday.
“Canadian wildfire smoke continues to push through parts of the Northern and Central U.S. into East and widespread air quality alerts are in effect, according to the National Weather Service.
Elevated temperatures raise the risk of forest fires, as Canada has been experiencing. The country has lost more than nine million hectares of forests in 2023 to date, far surpassing the 10-year average of about 800,000 hectares.
The resulting air pollution and haze has spread across much of the heavily populated northeastern United States, affecting the health of millions.
Above-normal temperatures, with the mercury rising more than five degrees Celsius (41 degrees Fahrenheit) above the long-term average, are forecast in the Mediterranean region over the next two weeks, as well as in many places in North Africa, the Middle East, and Türkiye.