Extremely warm waters in the Persian Gulf are pushing temperatures in the region to superlative-defying heights. Temperatures hit 122°F in Iraq, where drought and “oil industry excess” have set off a water crisis, killing off livestock and destroying crop harvests. Heat indices in the region have regularly topped 140°F in recent weeks and coastal Iran hit 158°F on Tuesday. In Abu Dhabi and Kuwait City, nighttime “low” heat indices have remained above 100°F.

“Standing in searing heat in that scarred landscape, breathing air polluted by the many gas flares dotting [southern Iraq’s oil-producing Basra] region, it was clear to me that the era of global boiling has indeed begun,” UN human rights chief Volker Turk told reporters in Baghdad on Wednesday. “What is happening here is a window into a future that is now coming for other parts of the world if we continue to fail in our responsibility to take preventive and mitigating action against climate change.” (Iraq heat: Reuters; Iraq water crisis: AP; Persian Gulf region: Washington Post $; Climate Signals background: Extreme heat and heatwaves)