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In the age of climate change, our past is encroaching on the present. Last week, falling water levels in a Serbian stretch of the Danube, Europe’s second largest river, surfaced a flotilla of Nazi-era German warships that were still loaded with ammunition and unexploded ordnance. They were exhibited at a time when Europe is going through what seems to be the worst drought in half a millenniumwith two-thirds of the continent under some form of drought warning.

More ruins and wrecks arise as the waterways narrow. A submerged 1st-century AD Roman bridge likely built on the orders of Emperor Nero emerged from the Tiber River last month; further north, out of the depths of Lake Como crowded with Italian tourists, emerged a 100,000 year old skull of a deer and the ancient remains of lions, hyenas and rhinos.

Scorching temperatures left the Iberian Peninsula drier than at any time in the past 1,200 years. In Spain, parched riverbeds and shrinking reservoirs have exposed a Neolithic monument known as the Spanish Stonehenge, a Roman fortress, a medieval church and a number of newer ‘ghost towns’ that had been abandoned and flooded following dam projects in the 20th century.

In France, who knows his worse record drought, winegrowers are harvest their grapes earlier than ever. At a time when concern is already mounting over energy costs, soaring temperatures and scarce rainfall have affected hydropower capacity in parts of Europe. They also sowed havoc on the continent’s agricultural production.

On this front, too, Europe’s rivers hold bleak omens – receding waters in parts of central Europe have revealed old “hunger stones”, markers placed along riverbeds that people for centuries previous ones left as guides from previous droughts. A stone that emerged from the Elbe read“When it collapses, life will become more colorful again.”

How ‘Heat Agents’ Plan to Help Cities Survive Ever Hotter Summers

These maps show how excessively hot it is in Europe and the United States

Yet what is happening now in Europe — and around the world — is not just a repeat of the past. The Northern Hemisphere summer has been defined by a never-ending series of unwanted climate-related superlatives. Heat waves have set record temperatures in cities across Middle East and Europa. China is grappling with its worst drought on record, which has dried up parts of the Yangtze River and affected swaths of the country’s industrial sector. Meanwhile, in the span of just five weeks, cities across the United States have experienced five instances of 1,000-year rain events, that is, severe flooding events that have only 0, 1% chance of occurring in any given year.

The scale and ferocity of what is happening is supercharged by climate change. “Studies have found that heat waves are increasing in intensity and duration in China, while producing warmer temperatures at night, due to human-induced climate change,” my colleagues reported. “The increase was seen in both urban and rural areas. Heat waves also start earlier and end later.

In China, droughts in some parts of the country were met by a deluge in others. The western province of Qinghai experienced such heavy rains that some rivers changed course; landslides and flooding killed more than a dozen people earlier this month.

In some cases there is a direct link between drought and floods — the soil actually absorbs water better when it is moist, while heavy rains flush parched landscapes into waterways. That explains why central Texas researchers fear what could happen after a drought exposed 113 million-year-old dinosaur tracks in a dried-up riverbed.

“Given the wild fluctuations in weather and precipitation, we can have these long dry spells exposing things and then catastrophic flooding,” Vincent Santucci, senior paleontologist at the National Park Service, told my colleagues. “The high-energy nature of these floods can completely destroy a fossil site.”

Five 1,000-year rain events hit the United States in five weeks. Why?

In South Asia, the scorching heat of early summer gave way to an erratic and intense monsoon season. This, in turn, caused major floods and landslides in Pakistan, India and Bangladesh. Pakistan has been ravaged in recent weeks, with heavy rains and flooding rivers killing more than 1,000 people and displacing more than 10 million. Pakistan declared a state of emergency over the weekend and requested international assistance, with officials describing the devastation wrought by a summer of extreme weather conditions as the worst in over a decade.

Pakistan is experiencing a ‘climate disaster’, says national climate change minister Told NPR this weekend.

“Extreme weather events have become a regular phenomenon in South Asia,” Hamid Mir wrote for the Washington Post’s Opinion Pages last month. “We are facing weather-related issues in almost all parts of Pakistan. Flooding has become almost routine in some areas; others are in the grip of drought. Glaciers are melting rapidly, reducing water flow in rivers. Agriculture suffers and the drop in agricultural productivity creates food insecurity. All that accelerate migration from rural areas to cities.

South Asia is abrupt end of a planetary crisis. “Relentless heat waves have led scientists to wonder if areas in the region could soon become uninhabitable or too dangerous for human life. “Across India and around the world, summer has become a perilous season, when the poorest and most vulnerable members of society have to live and work in conditions that stretch the limits of human endurance,” they said. detailed my colleagues in a dark but important life-tracing article. for Indian day laborers who have no choice but to work outside.

No part of the world is immune to the reality of climate change. “The signature of a warming world is now noticeable every day in the conditions we regularly experience,” wrote my colleague Matthew Cappucci, exploring the scientific causes of increased precipitation in the United States.

“For many people, the concept of climate change may seem far and away – a rise of two millimeters in sea level per year or a slight increase in global temperatures may seem inconsequential,” he added. . “But human influence affects the dynamics of weather systems, the periodicity of the jet stream, and the moisture-holding capacity of the atmosphere.”

The experience of these extreme weather conditions does not require major climate policy reforms. The global energy panic has led to the near-term pursuit of greater fossil fuel extraction. China has had to scramble for more coal after summer heat and drought took a toll on its hydropower capacity.

“After this crisis, the coal lobby will say, ‘This is why you need to have more coal mines and more coal-fired power plants,'” said Philip Andrews-Speed, senior researcher at the Institute for energy from the National University of Singapore. , say my colleagues. “As in Europe, the key is to keep the lights on and the heating and air conditioning running. That’s the short-term priority.