World reels from wildfires, floods as US, China discuss climate crisis
Global temperatures are on the rise and the US and China look to reignite climate diplomacy.
Asia, Europe, and the United States all suffered under extreme heat on Monday amid a rise in global temperatures toward alarming highs, and US leaders sought to reignite climate diplomacy with China.
The United States has been burned by record-breaking heat in the West and South, drenched by flood-inducing rain in the Northeast, and clogged by wildfire smoke in the Midwest.
A heat dome parked over the western United States raised the temperature on Sunday in California's Death Valley desert to 128 degrees Fahrenheit (53 degrees Celsius), one of the highest temperatures recorded on Earth in the previous 90 years.
On Monday, Phoenix reached 114 degrees Fahrenheit (45.5 degrees Celsius), matching a historic record of 18 consecutive days above 110 degrees Fahrenheit, which is expected to last at least another week. The heatwave in the United States coincided with extreme temperatures elsewhere in the Northern Hemisphere.
Sanbao, a distant village in China's desert northwest, set a national record of 52.2C (126F). Wildfires blazed throughout Europe ahead of a second heat wave in two weeks that was expected to push temperatures as high as 48 degrees Celsius (118 degrees Fahrenheit), with authorities in Italy and France issuing heat-related health warnings.
Even in Phoenix, which is accustomed to hot weather, the protracted period of scorching heat is taxing individuals and causing concern among officials. The heat killed 425 people in Maricopa County in the Phoenix area last year, so the Salvation Army mobile unit delivers much-needed cold water, hats, sunscreen, and hygiene kits to those in need. "It feels like you're inside of a dryer, the dryer at the laundromat. And it's suffocating," said Cristina Hill, an unhoused woman who benefited from the outreach on Monday and said she suffered a heat stroke last year. "I cry all the time. I yell at the heat."
US, China climate talks
The severe global temperatures emphasized the importance of resuming climate change discussions between China and the United States, especially since scientists suggest the objective of reducing global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels is becoming unattainable.
US climate envoy John Kerry met with his Chinese counterpart Xie Zhenhua in Beijing, where he called for cooperation to cut methane emissions and coal-fired electricity. "In the next three days, we hope we can begin taking some big steps that will send a signal to the world about the serious purpose of China and the United States to address a common risk, threat, and challenge to all of humanity created by humans themselves," Kerry said, adding that "It is toxic for both Chinese and for Americans and for people in every country on the planet."
It is noteworthy that the US has been outsourcing much of its production to China for some decades now.
Prolonged high temperatures in China are endangering electricity infrastructure and agriculture, prompting fears of a recurrence of last year's drought, which was the worst in 60 years.
Typhoon Talim was strengthening and was expected to make landfall on China's southern coast at night, forcing the cancellation of flights and trains in Guangdong and Hainan.
Torrential rains in South Korea killed 40 people when river levees broke, triggering flash floods. They came on the heels of the greatest rainfall ever recorded in Seoul last year.
In Europe, a relentless heatwave persisted.
The Italian health ministry issued red weather advisories for 20 of the country's 27 major cities on Tuesday, suggesting a potential health risk for anyone exposed to the heat, with the number projected to grow to 23 on Wednesday.
The current hot spell will likely hospitalize or kill "many" people, as heatwaves have done practically every summer since 2015, according to France's public health authorities. The World Meteorological Organization predicted that the high heat and rainfall will continue until August.
"In many parts of the world, today is predicted to be the hottest day on record," tweeted Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organisation, adding that "The #ClimateCrisis is not a warning. It's happening. I urge world leaders to ACT now."
Last summer, heatwaves killed up to 61,000 people in Europe, and a repeat is expected this season.