Our Summer of Extremes

BERLIN – This summer has been one of weather-related extremes in Russia, Pakistan, China, Europe, the Arctic – you name it. But does this have anything to do with global warming, and are human emissions to blame?

While it cannot be scientifically proven (or disproven, for that matter) that global warming caused any particular extreme event, we can say that global warming very likely makes many kinds of extreme weather both more frequent and more severe.

For weeks, central Russia has been in the grips of its worst-ever heat wave, which has caused probably thousands of fatalities. As a result of drought and heat, more than 500 wildfires have raged out of control, smothering Moscow in smoke and threatening several nuclear facilities. Russia’s government has banned wheat exports, sending world grain prices soaring.

Meanwhile, Pakistan is struggling with unprecedented flooding that has killed more than a thousand people and affected millions more. In China, flash floods have so far killed more than a thousand people and destroyed more than a million homes. On a smaller scale, European countries like Germany, Poland, and the Czech Republic have also suffered serious flooding.