As the UK braces for its hottest day on record, many who oppose climate action have drawn comparisons with the heatwave of June 1976, remarking that exceptionally hot weather has always existed. Bev Turner, a GB News presenter, cited the heatwave and suggested a meteorologist should be “happy” about the temperature.
The 1976 heatwave, when the UK experienced 15 consecutive days of temperatures above 32°C, peaking at 35.9°C, does not even make the top 10 hottest recorded temperatures in the UK.
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All but one of the highest temperatures recorded in the UK, according to the Met Office, was after 1990 and more extreme hot weather events have become increasingly common since.
This increase in extreme hot weather in the UK has been occurring against a backdrop of rising global temperatures. The annual temperature anomaly, the measure of how much warmer or colder the global temperature is than average as recorded by NASA, was 0.85°C in 2021. In 1976 it was -0.1°C.
Since 1976 humans have increased the world’s concentration of CO₂, a major greenhouse gas, by 27 per cent from around 330ppm to 420ppm. The hottest recorded day in the UK was 38.7°C on 25 July 2019 at the Cambridge Botanic Gardens. However, forecasts suggest that today could surpass that, with the south of England potentially hitting 41°C.
[See also: Are extreme heatwaves the new normal?]