The “hottest in history” summer is coming! The airport runway is so hot that it “melts”, why don’t Europeans install air conditioners?

It's been a disturbing summer.

In June of the "southern flood and northern drought", flood disasters occurred in many places in southern China and Jiangnan, and high temperatures of 40°C occurred in many places such as Henan, Hebei, and Shandong.

As of July 12, the daily maximum temperature of 71 weather stations in my country has exceeded the historical extreme, and many people in Zhejiang, Sichuan, Jiangsu and other places have been diagnosed with heat stroke.

Heat stroke is the most serious case of severe heat stroke. A nurse wearing a protective suit fainted while working outdoors for a long time at 38°C, and a 56-year-old worker collapsed on the way to finishing work after 9 hours of high temperature work.

The whole world is also hot and cold, and a deadly heat wave is sweeping across Europe, breaking the record for the highest temperature in history and disrupting people's normal lives.

Heat alerts, wildfires rage, Europe is hot

On July 19, local time, the highest temperature in the UK exceeded 40°C for the first time. The previous highest temperature in the UK was 38.7°C in 2019.

Heathrow Airport was the first to break the 40°C mark , with a temperature of 40.2°C recorded at noon local time on July 19, before a temperature of 40.3°C was recorded in Coningsby, Lincolnshire.

Temperatures between 39C and 40C were recorded across swathes of eastern England from Surrey to South Yorkshire, with at least 34 weather stations setting records.

With people working from home on Monday and Tuesday and using public transport only when necessary under the UK government's first "red extreme heat warning", temperatures are expected to drop on Wednesday.

These numbers may not seem surprising to us, but the UK is a country known for frequent showers, mild weather, heating rather than cooling, and is unprepared for such extreme heat.

The heat was followed by a raging fire.

In the east London suburb of Wennington, 15 fire engines and about 100 firefighters were sent to fight the blaze as black smoke billowed and multiple houses were destroyed; two people were rushed to smoke inhalation after a fire broke out in the east London suburb of Dagenham Going to hospital for treatment; further north in the town of Milton Keynes, a nursery was caught in flames.

▲ Picture from: BBC

Due to the risk of fire, the government reminds the public not to barbecue, go wild swimming, and to be careful to extinguish the smoke.

Extreme temperatures have also affected traffic.

On the afternoon of the 18th local time, some airport runways were defective due to high temperature, and the Luton Airport in the United Kingdom was temporarily suspended; the British Air Force also suspended the take-off and landing of aircraft at its largest base because "the runway may have melted" ; due to the high temperature of the track There is a risk of bending, with speed limits on most routes on the rail network.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said Britain's rail network could not cope with extreme heat and would need "many years" of upgrades to cope with the hotter climate.

Most of the London Underground, which is not air-conditioned, is like a "sauna" and has also been suspended.

Water companies in the south and east of England have warned that increased demand has led to lower water pressures and even supply disruptions in some households.

In addition, Google Cloud Services and Oracle's servers in the UK suffered cooling-related outages, with both companies blaming high temperatures for unexpected shutdowns.

Outside the UK, extreme heat is also baking much of Europe and North Africa.

▲ Picture from: ft

Wildfires have broken out in France, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Morocco and Croatia.

Axios reported that from July 10 to July 17, the highest temperature in Spain was between 39 ℃ and 45 ℃, and a total of 678 people died due to the high temperature; from July 7 to July 18, Portugal had 1063 people were brought by the heat wave walk life.

▲ Spain. Picture from: AP

Paris once climbed to 41 degrees Celsius , and people escaped the heat in the city subway, under trees in parks, and around fountains.

Greek authorities have directed people to evacuate in four areas near Pentley in eastern Athens, where thick smoke and flames can be seen due to forest fires.

▲ Greece. Picture from: BBC

Survive a summer without air conditioning

"Stay where it's cool," may be a good blessing in this summer.

Walking quickly through the heat of the air conditioner outside, and then entering the room to face the cool breeze, perhaps nothing can mark the arrival of summer more than this.

But not for Europe.

According to a 2021 report by the UK Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy , less than 5% of UK households have air conditioning installed, and around half of the cooling demand comes from offices, followed by retail stores and hospitals.

One of the main reasons is "low cost performance". Many European countries are located above 40 degrees north latitude, and even in summer, it rarely exceeds 30 degrees Celsius. In some places, fans are used for up to 2 weeks per year. In southern France, such as Cannes, there are more air conditioners.

▲ Picture from: PA Media

British homes are designed without even thinking about how to deal with summer. "We are a heating country, not a cooling country," said Tadj Oreszczyn, a professor at UCL.

For example, in some older buildings, the hot water pipes running through the hallways may not be insulated, and the hot water from the shower spreads heat throughout the apartment, overcoming cold winters but exacerbating the threat of heat waves.

But in recent years, heat waves have swept Europe, and the penetration rate of air conditioners is still low. Because of the high cost and troublesome installation, it is also powerless to install an air conditioner.

▲ Picture from: euronews

Zhihu user @huihuiash wants to raise the ash . I installed an air conditioner in France and installed an air conditioner (an indoor unit plus an outdoor unit). Not only did I have to spend money to buy the machine, but I could only ask a company that holds a professional air conditioner installation certificate to buy accessories and installation equipment. The machine price, installation fee, debugging fee, etc. add up, and the average expenditure is around 2,500 euros. The minimum wage in France is only 1,200 euros.

What's more troublesome is that if you live in a place with an owner's committee, such as an apartment, you must vote at the owners' meeting to install air conditioners to discuss whether it will disturb the neighbors, affect the appearance, damage the building, etc., and more than half of them agree to install it.

▲ Picture from: Xinhua News Agency

In the summer of 2019, the sales staff of the French department store Bashiwei Electric only sold more than 350 air conditioners, basically all mobile air conditioners. Because this type of air conditioner does not require a license, the price is around 450-900 euros.

However, public places such as the Louvre, libraries, supermarkets and larger restaurants are air-conditioned.

The United Kingdom also has strict requirements for air conditioning installation , which is not allowed to be installed on the surface of the building. This means that the air conditioner must be installed on the roof or the ground, and extended copper pipes need to be installed, which costs even more than the price of the air conditioner.

In addition, in Germany, the price of a 1.5-horse air conditioner is more than 700 euros, and the installation fee is 1100 euros.

▲ Picture from: EPA

Of course, while using air conditioners, the climate problems that air conditioners may cause also need attention.

According to a 2018 report by the International Energy Agency, greenhouse gas emissions from coal and natural gas power plants that power air conditioners will nearly double by 2050, and these emissions will contribute to global warming and may further fuel demand for air conditioners .

▲ Picture from: climatechangenews

The UK government has also pointed out that rising temperatures driven by climate change could increase demand for cooling systems that consume a lot of energy and could run counter to the UK's goal of reducing net greenhouse gas production to zero by 2050.

But when the heat is unbearable, not using the air conditioner can be fatal.

Therefore, some scientists believe that the solution is not to persuade countries to stop using air conditioners, but to make air conditioners more energy-efficient, such as setting energy efficiency standards for air conditioners, phasing out refrigerants, and so on.

"The hottest summer in history" has been refreshed repeatedly. Where does this heat wave come from?

It's no surprise that climate change is causing temperatures to rise, and we're almost constantly on track for the "hottest summer on record."

Scientists have pointed out that heatwaves in Europe are increasing in frequency and intensity faster than "almost anywhere else" on Earth .

Global warming is naturally a well-known cause.

The average temperature today is about 1.1°C warmer than it was in the late 19th century because of emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

▲ Picture from: Unsplash

Global warming doesn't just mean a higher "starting point" for extreme temperatures, it affects atmospheric and oceanic circulation.

Kai Kornhuber, a researcher at Columbia University, found that heatwaves in Europe have increased in frequency and intensity over the past 40 years and are related to changes in the jet stream, many of which occur when the jet stream temporarily splits in two. This leaves an area of ​​weak winds and high-pressure air, which is conducive to the accumulation of extreme heat."

At the same time, one of the world's major ocean currents, the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), is also changing.

In 2021, Dr. Efi Rousi, a senior scientist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Research in Germany, used computer simulations to show that as the world warms, weakening ocean currents can lead to changes in atmospheric circulation, making European summers drier.

▲ Picture from: guardian

The persistence of heatwaves in Europe may also be related to the faster warming of the Arctic: The temperature difference between the North Pole and the equator decreases, which leads to a reduction in the summer monsoon, allowing the weather system to last longer.

According to a recent expert study , heat waves are now 3 times more frequent than pre-industrial and 1.2°C warmer.

Stephen Belcher, head of technology at the Met Office, said if emissions continued to be high, "we could see a heat wave like this every three years".

"Hot" is a "new year" topic. It seems that every year we can see such news: "The hottest summer in history", "Break the high temperature record", "The heat exploded"…

People are often skeptical about climate change – is it man-made, or just a natural evolution?

In August 2021, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a climate change report stating that about 95%-100% of climate warming is caused by human activities, and about 0-5% is caused by natural factors.

If warming breaches the 1.5°C "safety line" established by the Paris Agreement, it will be catastrophic for many countries, with extreme heat events more frequent, longer and more intense.

▲ Picture from: Reuters

At Monday's Petersburg Climate Dialogue , UN Secretary-General António Guterres made his position on the climate crisis clear – countries must act now:

Half of humanity is at risk of floods, droughts, extreme storms and wildfires. No country is immune. Yet we continue to meet our dependence on fossil fuels. What bothers me most is our failure to work together as a multilateral community in the face of this global crisis. ….
Excellencies, this must be the decade of decisive climate action, which means trust, multilateralism and cooperation. We have a choice, collective action or collective suicide, and it is in our hands.

Title image from: Ben Birchall/AP
References:
1. https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-62217282
2. https://www.bbc.com/news/live/uk-62184978
3. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/07/19/climate/europe-heat-wave-science.html
4. https://www.nytimes.com/live/2022/07/18/world/europe-uk-heat-weather
5. https://www.euronews.com/green/2022/07/18/is-climate-change-causing-the-heatwave-heres-the-simple-science-behind-europes-scorching-w

Li Ruoqiuhuang, to exorcise evil. Working email: [email protected]

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