Publication Date June 28, 2019

Record-breaking heat is scorching France. Experts say climate change is to blame


It has never been so hot in France — at least since humans have kept reliable records. On Friday, many cities near the Mediterranean exceeded 111 degrees Fahrenheit, shattering the former all-time year-round record of 111 degrees set back in 2003.

Météo-France, the equivalent of the U.S. National Weather Service, certified a high of 114.6 degrees in the southern city of Gallargues-le-Montueux in the Provence region.

This comes on the heels of all-time June records set in Poland, Czech Republic and Germany, where the thermometer climbed to 101.5 degrees on Wednesday.

One of the world's most famous climate scientists, Dr. James Hansen of Columbia University, told CBS News, "For all practical purposes, the heat wave is caused by human-made global warming." 

This is an uncharacteristically strong statement for any climate scientist to make, but Hansen has done extensive research into this topic. It was his 1988 congressional testimony on climate change that first brought greater awareness of the dangers of human-caused environmental changes.


"In dry subtropics such as the Mediterranean area, the [temperature distribution] shift in the summer is so large that events as extreme as those of 2003 and 2019 now have a probability of happening that is at least a couple of orders of magnitude (factor ~100 or more) greater than it was in the climate without human influence," Hansen said.

"In other words, the chance of those extreme events in the pre-industrialized world was not zero, but it was negligibly small compared to the chance today," Hansen continued. "So you can say with a very high degree of confidence that this extreme event is a consequence of human-made climate change."