As the temperature rises “This is a preview.” Will the warning be heard?

But it remains an open question whether extreme weather events such as heat waves and fires this month will change that mindset.

For Germany, I think last year’s floods were something of a wake-up call as, “Oh, the weather in Germany can really be deadly,” Otto said. But she expressed skepticism that the heatwave would have a similar effect. “People don’t die dropping dead in the street in the heat. People are dying quietly in their poorly insulated homes.” And she noted that those who do tend to be the elderly, the poor and the sick — groups for whom the effects of heat are easier to ignore. “These are the same people who are already dying from air pollution and no one cares,” she said.

Anna Walnicki, a climate change adaptation researcher at London’s International Institute for Environment and Development, had more hope in extreme weather’s ability to draw attention to the direct human costs of climate change.

“These few days have actually allowed people to see their grandmother suffering from the heat, the NHS actually bending under the stress of the heat,” she said, referring to the British National Health Service. She added that by moving from abstract discussions of net carbon emissions to local impacts with a “human face”, heat waves could affect public perceptions of how much countries like the UK will lose from climate change and how quickly that can happen.

It is true, of course, that the poorer countries of the Global South and the poorest people in them will bear the brunt of climate change. In May, I was in India at the end of its own record heat wave, when the temperature rose much higher than in Europe. The impact on people’s livelihoods and survival has been much more extreme than anything that’s happening here.

And even within the same city, temperatures can distinguish between the rich and the poor: Walnitsky, whose research focuses mainly on Latin America and Africa, told me that poorer neighborhoods and informal settlements can become “heat islands,” reaching temperatures as high as 10 degrees Fahrenheit hotter than nearby green spaces. suburbs due to the warming effect of paved land, sparse green space, and limited shade.