Climate Change Has No Borders

Western Europe has seen one of its hottest summers yet in 2022.


Milan, Italy during Europe’s 2022 summer heat wave.

With growing climate change around the world, the equilibrium of our planet has been overturned, forcing nature to odd effects, such as overwhelming temperatures. However, though these grueling temperatures may have been unanticipated by the ordinary civilian, they certainly weren’t unexpected to climate change specialists. With the rapidity of climate change in 2022, it wasn’t too surprising to see that the global surface temperature for June 2022 ranked sixth-highest in the 143 year record. 

What was surprising for many, including specialists, was the location of this year’s extreme summer temperatures. Why Europe? The hitting of such unforgiving temperatures in Western Europe is ironic as many Western European countries have been leading the fight against climate change by creating a more sustainable lifestyle, through methods such as recycling and new scientific innovations. In fact, the European Union has cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 30% since 1990, while other affluent countries such as the US, Canada, and Australia have actually increased their emissions by roughly 3%, 20%, and 30% respectively. 

So then why is it that Europe is getting the hit this summer if they have been the ones working the most to combat climate change? The answer lies in carbon dioxide, the primary greenhouse gas: it doesn’t respect any borders. 

However, the unfairness of climate change’s expanse has been present for decades in the manifestation of Africa’s growing temperatures. Although Africa has only contributed to a mere 4% of climate change, the effects of increasing temperatures have impacted the continent brutally nonetheless. 

European countries are now facing a heat wave, as well as a possible drought due to the lack of rainfall Europe has been experiencing. 

Britain has experienced its hottest temperatures on record at 104 degrees Fahrenheit, in comparison to its July average of 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Because Britain is used to cooler weather, most of its structures are not equipped against such extreme heat. Most homes and subway systems do not have air conditioning and are often engineered in a way to retain heat. 

In Paris, temperatures have also reached the top of the record list at 108 degrees Fahrenheit. Firefighters have been feverishly combating wildfires in France, Portugal, Spain, and Greece. 

In an interview with Hannah Hipolito (‘23), student President of PHUHS’s global issues club, she was shocked. 

“I’m honestly quite surprised to hear that. I would think that by decreasing their own emissions, Europe would be in a better place than the rest of us, but unfortunately that’s not the case. It really shows how much of a team effort this climate crisis has become. It isn’t enough for only some of us to try,” Hipolito said. “The fact that climate change has no borders is really concerning. No one is exempt from global warming or the environmental destruction we currently face. This news is a needed reminder of that.” 

Hipolito is absolutely correct. Climate change is global, and fighting it demands a global response. 

“The government should put in place hard regulations to prevent further damage to our environment. Mega corporations are the primary contributors of greenhouse gas emissions and they need to be stopped. Telling everyday citizens to use plastic straws and recycle their water bottles to save the planet is a flimsy response to the current crisis we face on Earth,” Hipolito said. “I think people really don’t realize how serious climate change is and that’s going to be a problem moving forward. If we as a collective don’t even perceive it to be an issue, then there’s little hope for change. I hope that action is taken to fix, or at least lessen the damage we have caused, but I worry it will be too little too late.” 

The consequences of climate change in Europe serve as reminders of not only the unjust effects but also the extreme dangers of climate change, as well as a call to action for change all over the world.