Heavy rains in China threaten ancient Buddhist murals

Some artefacts could already be gone

Ancient Buddhist murals in Dunhuang and Zhangye, Gansu province, are under threat after the extreme rainfall, researchers say.

“Gansu is famous for its caves and the art stored inside them for centuries.

“Increased bouts of rainfall in the desert pose an acute risk.”

The report warned some artefacts could already be gone by the time the heritage survey has been completed. 

Cultural heritage conservation experts from the Dunhuang Research Academy met climate scientists from Greenpeace East Asia to discuss the impact of extreme rainfall on China’s cultural heritage.

How extreme are our weather conditions really getting?

From climate change experts, to the Mayor of London, many voices have advocated for action to be taken against rising global temperatures. 

But just exactly how volatile are our weather conditions getting, or is it just another summer of heatwaves and thunderstorms? 

Dr Paulo Ceppi, lecturer in climate science at the Grantham Institute, climate change and the environment, from Imperial College London, explains what’s happening globally this summer. 

A NASA scientist has warned this will be ‘the coolest summer for the rest of your life’ – is this just the beginning?

This isn’t the beginning. The climate has been warming for more than two centuries now and science is clear. 

If we don’t stop burning fossil fuels, temperatures will continue to rise, such that in the future, we might consider this to be a cool summer. 

As soon as we reduce global emissions to net zero, temperatures will stabilise.

Is it now too late to stop extreme weather happening more regularly?

By reducing global emissions to net zero, we can avoid more extreme weather, including even hotter heatwaves. 

But until that happens, heatwaves and weather extremes will become more intense, destroying livelihoods and ecosystems.

 People should never think that it is too late to do anything about climate change.

What changes to our everyday life in summer are we going to have to make to cope with future extreme heat?

People need to be aware of the dangers of extreme heat and the required behaviours to stay safe. 

During extreme heat, people should stay well hydrated and remain indoors or under shade during the hottest periods of the day. 

The elderly are most vulnerable to heat, so governments and health providers will need to continue to take steps to ensure they are protected during heatwaves.

Image: Heavy downpour in China causing huge losses.

Is there anything unprecedented about this summer’s heatwaves across the globe?

Perhaps the most surprising thing about the heatwaves is how surprised people have been. 

For decades now, climate scientists have warned the world that if we continue to burn fossil fuels, the climate will continue to warm. We have expected this level of heat. Although the current climate impacts are exceptional, they are not more extreme than what computer models have predicted.

In fact, what we’re seeing is absolutely consistent with our expectation from the modelling: more frequent and severe heatwaves, as well as greater risk of wildfires and more intense extreme rainfall, to name only a few examples.

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