I get it; it’s a four day weekend, the Sun’s out and the weather is absolutely bloody glorious.
Everybody everywhere in the UK has been making the most of the 20+°C weather, dusting off last summer’s sunglasses and heading out in their thousands to drink in beer gardens and sunbathe at leisure.
But guys, it’s April. As glorious as this weather might seem, it absolutely should not be this hot just four months into the year. It just shouldn’t.
Over the bank holiday weekend, the Met Office confirmed temperatures reached 25.5°C in parts of the UK, breaking records and hitting a 70-year high for the Easter bank holiday weekend.
Year after year, the UK is managing to break its own records with regards to temperature spikes; just last year, England had its hottest April since 1949 with temperatures soaring to 28°C in parts of London.
It’s easy to dismiss these unusually high temperatures as another heatwave, without giving further thought to the wider implications of climate change, when you’re sat enjoying a bev with your mates. Trust me, I know.
Temperature records for Easter Day were broken across Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland on Sunday, and elsewhere it was another warm and sunny day of the #EasterWeekend
Scotland: 23.4 °C in Edinburgh
Northern Ireland: 21.0 °C at Helen's Bay
Wales: 23.4 °C in Cardiff pic.twitter.com/I5eD2qZi9i
— Met Office (@metoffice) April 21, 2019
But with statistics showing a gradual rise in temperatures and with Met Office forecasts suggesting that – by the end of this year – 19 of the 20 warmest years on record will have occurred since the year 2000, the implications are hard to ignore.
Firstly, I should make it clear that hot weather is not necessarily a sign of climate change; other factors come into play and so it’s difficult to say whether a few unseasonably hot days are due to climate change alone.
Basically, it’s hard to pinpoint this one specific heatwave and link it directly to climate change. That’s just not how science works.
However, it is possible to link a series of extreme weather patterns to climate change and when you look at weather patterns in recent years, there’s no denying there has been a definite shift.
Figures show the average temperature over the last decade has increased by 0.8°C, with rainfall up 20 per cent, compared to a 30-year period ending in 1990. In other words, weather at both ends of the spectrum is getting more extreme.
And it’s only set to continue, with the Met Office confirming heatwaves are now 30x more likely because of human-induced climate change.
Professor Peter Stott, a world-leading expert on climate attribution based at the Met Office and the University of Exeter, said:
Our provisional study compared computer models based on today’s climate with those of the natural climate we would have had without human-induced emissions.
We find that the intensity of this summer’s heatwave is around 30 times more likely than would have been the case without climate change.
Some of you might be thinking, what’s the big deal? We’ve put up with crappy weather for years now, surely more heatwaves can only be a good thing.
I’ll hold my hands up and admit that, until recently, I’d have said exactly the same thing. Warmer weather means longer summers, a 10/10 tan (well, burn), and more opportunities to sit in a beer garden.
It’s also indicative of the much greater problem of climate change, which needs to be addressed as soon as possible if we stand any chance at saving the planet.
UNILAD spoke to Areeba Hamid, a Greenpeace UK Campaigner, who says climate change is not a ‘future event’ as many believe. Instead, she explains how we are living through its impact right now and we only need to take a step back to see the obvious patterns.
Areeba told us:
Climate change means – and there is absolutely no doubt in the scientific community – it means frequent heat waves and it means a change in weather pattern.
The Greenpeace Campaigner went on to explain that discussing whether these heatwaves are a result of climate change is actually ‘not fruitful anymore,’ because all of the facts are on the table.
This is happening every year, and to go back to discussing whether this is to do with climate change or not is actually not fruitful anymore because weather patterns and extreme weather patterns and events are a smoking gun.
We know that something’s wrong – climate change is happening and we know it’s happening. So I think the bigger question is what are we going to do about it?
The facts are on the table, this is a climate emergency as we’ve heard. What are we going to do about it, how are we going to deal with it, how are we going to reduce our carbon emissions rapidly?
The Greenpeace Campaigner agrees there is a clear pattern, if we would only take a step back and look for one.
While I understand and I totally accept that individual events would be hard to link to climate change, when you take a step back and look at the pattern then it’s quite clear.
The heatwaves are a smoking gun and it’s time to start talking about how we can stop ourselves causing more damage to the planet.
We need to stop questioning why these things are happening and start asking what we can do to reduce our impact on the planet instead. Because soon, it’s going to be much too late.
No matter how much we’re enjoying this unseasonable burst of hot weather and no matter how much we want it to continue, it’s time to take accountability and realise it’s just not okay.
Yes, it might seem like a nice change to have a heatwave in April and yes, it’s great to spend a bank holiday weekend in the sun. But at what cost?
Are we really prepared to damage our planet beyond repair for a few days of sun? That’s the question we have to ask ourselves if we stand any chance at repairing the damage we’ve caused.
You can sign the Greenpeace petition to get the government to declare a climate emergency here.
You could also check out Lil Dicky’s latest track, Earth, which is raising money for environmental charities.
If you have a story you want to tell send it to UNILAD via [email protected]
A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).