Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

A sign indicating that a store is closed due to an ongoing heatwave is seen in London on July 19, 2022.

A sign indicating that a store is closed due to an ongoing heatwave is seen in London on July 19, 2022. (Photo: Sebastian Gollnow/picture alliance via Getty Images)

'We Are Sleepwalking Towards the Edge,' Says Greta as UK Sees Hottest Day on Record

"The climate crisis will continue to escalate and get worse as long as we stick our heads in the sand and prioritize profit and greed over people and planet," said Swedish activist Greta Thunberg.

Kenny Stancil

As the United Kingdom endures its hottest day on record amid Europe's unprecedented and ongoing heatwave, Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg warned Tuesday that the worst is yet to come—unless people around the world work together to dislodge the profit-maximizing economic system that is endangering life on Earth.

"This is not 'the new normal,'" Thunberg wrote on social media. "The climate crisis will continue to escalate and get worse as long as we stick our heads in the sand and prioritize profit and greed over people and planet. We are still sleepwalking towards the edge."

Thunberg's comments came as temperatures in Britain exceeded 40ºC (104ºF) for the first time in recorded history and continued to rise.

Such life-threatening conditions are consistent with climate scientists' long-standing and oft-repeated warnings that heatwaves, wildfires, and other extreme weather disasters will increase in frequency and intensity as long as greenhouse gas emissions, driven primarily by the burning of fossil fuels, continue to soar.

As The Guardian reported:

Hannah Cloke, a professor of hydrology at the University of Reading, said the record was a "grim milestone" and part of a "slide into unknown territory for humanity as we heat our planet." She urged "every politician who is calling for a watering down of climate policy to explain their thinking."

Nigel Arnell, a professor of climate system science at Reading, said emergency heat health alerts like the one in place for much of England could happen every two to three years by the 2050s, and more frequently if the world remains on track for temperatures to rise by over 2ºC by the end of the century.

It's not just the U.K. that is being scorched. Large swaths of the Northern Hemisphere—from Europe to Asia to North Africa and North America—are suffering under the weight of brutal heatwaves and devastating wildfires. More than 1,100 heat-related deaths have been reported this month in Portugal and Spain alone.

Thunberg's stark warning about the world's current trajectory toward an even hotter future echoed Monday's unequivocal message from United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres.

"We have a choice," said Guterres. "Collective action or collective suicide. It's in our hands."

"We need a concrete global response that addresses the needs of the world's most vulnerable people, communities, and nations," he added. "This has to be the decade of decisive climate action."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Protesting Fuel Poverty, People Tell UK Government to 'Keep Everyone Warm This Winter'

As energy bills—and fossil fuel profits—continue to soar, demonstrators around Britain demanded immediate action from Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and members of Parliament.

Kenny Stancil ·


'Turn Off the Tap on Plastic,' UN Chief Declares Amid Debate Over New Global Treaty

"Plastics are fossil fuels in another form," said U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres, "and pose a serious threat to human rights, the climate, and biodiversity."

Kenny Stancil ·


EPA Urged to 'Finish the Job' After Latest Move to Protect Bristol Bay From Pebble Mine

"Local residents, scientists, and the broader public all agree that this is quite simply a bad place for a mine, and it is past time for the EPA to take Pebble off the table permanently," said one activist in Alaska.

Jessica Corbett ·


'Zero Tolerance for Corruption': Grijalva, Porter Demand Answers on Alleged Trump Pardon Bribery Scheme

The Democrats believe a real estate developer donated to a Trump-aligned super PAC in exchange for the pardons of two other men.

Julia Conley ·


Millions of Americans Lack Adequate Health Coverage, But the Pentagon Has a New Nuclear Bomber to Flaunt

"This ominous death machine, with its price tag of $750 million a pop, brings huge profits to Northrop Grumman but takes our society one more step down the road of spiritual death," peace activist Medea Benjamin said of the new B-21 Raider.

Brett Wilkins ·

Common Dreams Logo