The widespread extreme heat that fueled drought across the Northern Hemisphere this summer would have been “virtually impossible” without the effects of climate change, an analysis released Wednesday by World Weather Attribution finds. The findings illustrate how the impacts of climate change — in this case, extreme heat and historic droughts in parts of Europe, the U.S., and China — are harming people now. The extraction and combustion of fossil fuels, the main driver of climate change, has already increased global temperatures by 1.2°C (2.2°F) above preindustrial levels, and made this summer’s drought 20 times more likely to occur.
“In many of these countries and regions, we are clearly, according to the science, already seeing the fingerprints of climate change,” Maarten van Aalst, director of the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Center and one of the report’s co-authors, told the New York Times. (Northern Hemisphere heat & drought: New York Times $, AP, The Guardian; Climate Signals background: Extreme heat and heatwaves, Drought, Western megadrought)