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Climate crisis 

The hottest summer in human history – a visual timeline (from The Guardian 9/29/23)o

From June to August 2023, a series of extreme weather events exacerbated by climate breakdown caused death and destruction across the globe

Jonathan Watts, Lucy Swan, Rich Cousins, Garry Blight, Harvey Symons and Paul Scruton

Fri 29 Sep 2023 03.07 EDT

Last modified on Fri 29 Sep 2023 09.09 EDT

As the world sweltered through the hottest three-month spell in human history this summer, extreme weather disasters took more than 18,000 lives, drove at least 150,000 people from their homes, affected hundreds of millions of others and caused billions of dollars of damage.

That is a conservative tally from the most widely covered disasters between early June and early September, which have been compiled in the timeline below as a reminder of how tough this period has been and what might lie ahead.

  • Haiti

2 June

Misery added to poverty

Unusually intense rains flood towns and villages, killing 42 and destroying more than 10,000 homes.

  • Canada
7 June
Fires the size of Greece

Smoke from devastating wildfires in Quebec casts a pall over New York and prompts air quality warnings for tens of millions of people. Over the course of the summer, fires across Canada would go on to burn 17.9m hectares of land, double the previous record. At least six people are killed and thousands evacuated. “The word ‘unprecedented’ doesn’t do justice to the severity of the wildfires in Canada this year,” said Yan Boulanger of Natural Resources Canada. “From a scientific perspective, the doubling of the previous burned area record is shocking.”  The area burned by wildfires in Canada so far this year is more than seven times the yearly average

  • Antarctic

28 June

Texas-sized decline in sea ice

Sea ice in the southern hemisphere drops 1.2m sq km (roughly the size of Texas) below the previous record low for early winter. Monthly records follow for July and August.

  • South Africa

29 June

Tornado in the southern winter

Seven people die in heavy rain and wind, followed by a tornado in KwaZulu-Natal. Officials in Durban said: “We are experiencing first hand the true effects of climate change during the winter season.”

  • India and Pakistan

5-16 July

The longest-lasting tropical cyclone in the Arabian Sea.

  • China

7 July

Air raid shelters converted into heat refuges

Beijing suspends outdoor work after a tour guide in the Summer Palace collapses and dies on the ninth straight day of temperatures over 35C. Hangzhou and Shijiazhuang open air raid shelters as refuges from the heat. Energy companies say they are burning record amounts of coal to meet the demand for air conditioning.

  • Japan

10 July

‘Heaviest rain ever’

Six people die in Kyushu during floods and landslides. Meteorological officials describe the deluge as the “heaviest rain ever”.

  • Italy

12 July

Road worker collapses in the street and dies. A 44-year-old road marking painter collapses on the street and dies from heat stress in Lodi, south-east of Milan, as temperatures soar above 40C in Europe’s Cerberus heatwave.

  • Pakistan

9 July

Grief at monsoon death toll.Monsoon rains lash Lahore and other regions, taking the toll since June to 76 deaths and 133 injuries.

  • Israel

15 July

Prime minister taken to hospital with dehydration

The Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, is rushed to hospital with suspected dehydration following a day spent in the sun without a hat or water.

  • China

16 July

All-time heat record shattered

An all-time China temperature record of 52.2C is set in Sanbao, exceeding the previous high by almost two degrees.

  • US

17 July

Death Valley sets world midnight temperature record. Death Valley records the highest midnight temperature in world history of 48.9C as heat tourists flock to the area.

  • Mexico

16 July

Surge in heat deaths

The government reports 167 deaths from extreme heat since March, dozens more than the previous year. This comes amid a record-long and wide heatwave that sees temperatures rise to 42C in the Valles Centrales and other areas.

  • Algeria

16 July

Fainting in the road

A 55-year-old man in Relizane dies amid a record heatwave, with temperatures over 50C paralysing outside activity after 10am. About 50 people are taken to hospital after fainting on the street, according to local media.

  • USA

17 July

Fatal flash floods. After days of heavy rain, flash floods sweep across swathes of the US’s north-east, killing at least seven people in Pennsylvania and one in New York, flooding roads, cutting electricity supplies and forcing the cancellation of nearly 1,500 flights.

  • Spain

17 July

Crisis declared in the olive oil industry

A heatwave and record temperatures in parts of the country (Catalonia records its hottest day with temperatures of 45.3C) scorch crops, leading annual production forecasts to be more than a third below average for the second consecutive year. Extreme weather also threatens rice production in Asia and soy production in the US and South America.

  • Italy

18 July

Hospitals adopt Covid-style protocols

Medical institutions enter emergency mode to cope with a rise in emergency cases related to heat-stress as temperatures across the country soared to historic highs. Rome bakes in 41.8C, smashing the city’s previous record set last year by more than a degree. In Sardinia, the mercury rose to 45C.

  • Greece

23 July

Biggest wildfire evacuation in history. More than 20,000 people are relocated from Rhodes as swathes of the island are engulfed by fire. Greece suffers the longest and most intense heatwave in the country’s history. A national record of 46.4C is set at Gytheio, and Athens is so hot that authorities close the Acropolis at midday.

  • Italy

24 July

Hailstones damage jetliner wings

A Delta Air Lines flight is forced to make an emergency landing in Rome after its wings are damaged by giant hailstones during a supercell storm in northern Italy. In Lombardy, two people are killed by falling trees.

  • South Korea

25 June to 26 July

Dozens killed in torrential rains

Forty-seven people are killed in the country’s third most intense monsoon season on record.

  • China

26-30 July

Beijing’s most intense downpour in history

Floods in the capital kill 44 people. Dozens more die across northern China as some areas received a year’s worth of rain in one week. The economic damage is estimated at more than $2bn. Two weeks after this, a mudslide in Xi’an buries 21 people and forces the evacuation of 17,000 after the consecutive typhoons Khanun and Doksuri.

  • Russia

July 30

Storm causes campsite carnage

Eight campers are killed and 27 are injured in a fierce storm in Mari El on the bank of the Volga River that brings trees down onto the tents.

July 2023 was the world's hottest month on record

Monthly average global surface temperature anomalies relative to a 1991-2020 baseline

  • UK

4 August

Europe Heatwave costs world 0.6% of GDP

A study by the Allianz insurance company estimates the heatwaves of the previous three months cost the world 0.6% of GDP in lost working hours, even without calculating the greater effects on health, infrastructure and agricultural production. Separately, other insurance companies appear to be reducing their exposure to climate risks by raising premiums and denying cover in areas at high risk of wildfires and storms.

  • Chile

5 August

Off-the-charts winter heat record in Andean mountains

Freakish winter heat above 37C in the Andean mountains of South America prompts meteorologist to declare: “This event is rewriting all climatic books.

  • Hawaii

8 August

Deadliest wildfire in US history. 

An uncontrolled blaze kills at least 97 in Lahaina on Maui island

  • Nepal

8 August

High mountains no refuge from deadly rains

The government announces that landslides and floods during this year’s monsoon have killed 38 people, destroyed countless homes and blocked a major highway.

  • Greece

22 August

18 migrants killed in EU’s biggest fire

The corpses, including those of two children, found in Dadia national forest are among 21 victims of the biggest wildfire in the EU since records began. Even the local hospital at the regional capital of Alexandroupoli has to be evacuated. Dozens of other fires erupted throughout the summer. A month earlier, 20,000 people, including holidaymakers, were rescued from fires on the island of Rhodes in what was described as the biggest evacuation in modern Greek history.

  • US

23 August

Morgues run out of space for bodies during record heatwave.

Morgues in Maricopa County, Arizona order extra coolers after a record 44 heat related deaths in one week. The previous month, Phoenix endured daily highs over 43.3C (110F) for 31 days in a row (smashing the record of 17 days from 1974).

  • US

22 August

Hilary smashes state rainfall records.

Nevada’s daily rainfall record is doubled during Tropical Storm Hilary, which also set records in Idaho, Montana and Oregon. It had previously swept through Mexico, killing one man, and deluged California.

  • Tajikistan

28-30 August

Central Asia’s deadly downpour

Three days of torrential rain near the capital caused floods, landslides and mudflows that kill at least 21 people in the central region near Dushanbe.Heatstroke blamed for record number of migrant deaths

  • US

30 August

Heatstroke blamed for record number of migrant deaths

The number of migrant deaths in El Paso hits a record annual high of 136, largely due to extreme heat, according to a US Border Patrol report. This is almost double the figure for the entirety of last year. “Migrants have told us they are being held without sufficient food or water on the Mexican side, or they were waiting for hours in the desert for the opportunity to cross,”said one official.

And the catastrophe goes on in SEPTEMBER.

  • Brazil

5 September

‘Worst ever’ climate catastrophe in southern state. 

The governor of Rio Grande do Sul says his state has suffered its worst ever death toll due to a climate event after an extratropical cyclone kills 31 and leaves over 1,600 homeless.

  • Hong Kong

8 September

Heaviest rain since records began

The most intense downpour in 140 years kills two and injures more than 100 as Typhoon Haikui sweeps across southern China.

  • Libya

9-11 September

World’s deadliest weather event of the year.

More than 11,300 people are killed in flooding in the coastal city of Derna after record rainfall leads to the collapse of dams. In a single day, Storm Daniel unleashed 200 times as much rain as usually falls on the city in the entire month of September. Human-induced climate change made this up to 50 times more likely.

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