Heat waves and overall climate change has scientists around the globe sounding the alarm and calling for the necessity of taking immediate measures.
Greece is going through a second heat wave this week, with temperatures reaching a searing 43 degrees Celsius (109.4 Fahrenheit) on Thursday.
“It is now crucial that all necessary measures are taken to tackle climate change and reduce its effects to a minimum,” said Academy of Athens Secretary General, Christos Zerefos.
The renowned scientist has published numerous works in atmospheric physics and climatology and has been honored for his scientific work.
Zerefos, who has received the Medal of Honor of the Balkan Association of Physicists, is former President and Honorary Member of the International Ozone Commission.
Speaking on Mega television on Thursday, the renowned physicist and climatologist said that the heat wave currently hitting Greece and other countries is an ominous sign.
Zerefos warns that climate change has reached a dangerous level and is getting more and more threatening to the entire world.
“Climate change has changed our lives”
“Climate change has changed our lives drastically,” the Athens Academy secretary general declared.
“Everyone is now convinced that something is wrong. They are convinced that extreme weather phenomena cost lives and money,” he continued.
According to the professor, in the last 60 years we have seen a number of heatwaves that previously were recorded over the span of 100 years.
Furthermore, now we see heatwaves occuring in areas such as the Arctic, Russia (including Siberia) and Canada, which traditionally have much more moderate temperatures.
In recent years, we are encountering these extreme weather phenomena not only more and more often, but also with greater intensity.
“Every year we will be warmer, drier, with more floods,” Zerefos said.
Greece threatened with desertification
Greece has not been unaffected by climate change. According to the scientist, “Southeastern Greece is threatened with 40 percent desertification… Things are not good at all.”
In this direction, both the European Union collectively and Greece individually, have taken measures to combat climate change.
“We assume that if we take the correct measures, we will be able to stabilize the temperature rise below two degrees (Celsius).
“The desired was 1.5 degrees, but I am afraid that we cannot achieve that, neither in our country nor in any other country,” the Greek climatologist said.
Scientists around the world equally alarmed
The US’ Pacific Northwest, an area where rain falls almost every day over the winter, while summers are dry, but comparatively temperate, has recently been hit by unprecedented sweltering temperatures.
Larry O’Neill, Oregon’s state climatologist, links the unusually high temperatures to climate change.
“It’s always difficult to immediately quantify how much impact climate change has had… but there is plenty of evidence to show that high temperatures and heat waves have become worse due to climate change,” he wrote, according to a report in Scientific American.
“Heat waves across the contiguous United States have occurred more often and lasted longer since the 1960s, which is consistent with a warming climate due to climate change,” he stated.
Reuters reported that at least 486 people died in Canada’s West coast province of British Columbia through Wednesday, with the number continuing to rise.
Canada saw temperatures go up to a hellishly hot 49.1 degrees C (120.4 F) in the end of last week, with similar temperatures persisting through this week.
Simon Donner, a professor of climatology at the University of British Columbia told CBC Canada: “As a climate scientist, we expect to see more extreme heat waves going forward into the future because we’re adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere,” he said.
“But this is even beyond my expectations. To have a heat wave last this long and be this hot in Canada is completely unprecedented in history,” he continued.
Nicholas Bond, a research scientist at the University of Washington and Washington’s state climatologist, said on NBC:
“The magnitude by which records are being broken — not by a degree or so but by 5 degrees and in some cases more — is really stunning. I didn’t really expect anything like this until further into the future.”
Studies link heat waves to climate change
A growing number of scientific studies are concluding that in some cases heat waves can be directly attributed to climate change, said Kristie L. Ebi, a professor at the Center for Health and the Global Environment at the University of Washington, accrding to ABC News.
That means that not only the U.S. West, but the rest of the world as well, can expect more extreme heat waves in the future unless officials move to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions, Ebi said.
More astonishingly, heat records were even broken in the Russian Arctic last week. These warming temperatures in Siberia have led to the melting of layers of permafrost.
“Climate change is loading the weather dice against us,” Katharine Hayhoe, climate scientist at the Nature Conservancy, an environmental organization, told The Guardian.