Wed 1 Aug 2018
Was this the heatwave that finally ended climate denial?
The blazing summer of 2018 has led to a shift in tone from some rightwing sceptics who can no longer deny the obvious
Illustration: Sébastien Thibault
It’s not always easy to recognise a historical tipping point when you see one, but I believe I spotted one when I walked into my local newsagent last Wednesday and saw the front page of the Sun. Over a map of the world which was coloured bright scarlet, the splash headline screamed: “THE WORLD’S ON FIRE”.
Britain’s biggest-selling daily newspaper was not mincing its words. The subheading on the left-hand side proclaimed “PLANET GRIPPED BY KILLER HEATWAVE”, while the right-hand one announced: “HUNDREDS DIE IN EUROPE AND JAPAN”. And if you were wondering what the cause of all this might be, the accompanying news report carried a quote – just the one – from Len Shaffrey, professor of climate science at Reading University, who said: “Global temperatures are increasing due to climate change. The global rise in temperatures means the probability that an extreme heatwave will occur is also increasing.”
I nearly choked on my KitKat when I read that. Is this really the Sun? The shoutiest outlet belonging to Rupert Murdoch, the media mogul who famously characterised climate change as “alarmist nonsense”? Is something happening here?