A massive heat wave has scorched much of Europe this week, with the U.K. shattering its record for highest temperature ever recorded Tuesday. We’re joined by author and environmental activist George Monbiot, whose latest column for The Guardian is headlined “This heatwave has eviscerated the idea that small changes can tackle extreme weather.” Monbiot criticizes what he calls “micro-consumerist bollocks” — an approach that presents “micro-solutions” to the “macro-problem” of climate change. “The only thing that delivers quickly and effectively is system change,” says Monbiot, who also breaks down how new technology can eliminate the West’s reliance on animal agriculture, which is one of the leading causes of the climate crisis. He also discusses the role of industrial animal agriculture in the climate crisis, which is often overshadowed by a focus on fossil fuels.

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh.

We go now to Britain, which shattered its record for highest temperature ever recorded Tuesday, with the London Fire Brigade declaring a major incident in response to a huge surge in fires across the capital. This comes amidst a heat wave scorching much of Europe and more fires in France. Britain’s national weather forecaster said this week the high temperatures are now a fact of life amidst concerns the country is not prepared for the heat.

For more, we go to George Monbiot, author, environmental activist, Guardian columnist, where his latest piece is headlined “This heatwave has eviscerated the idea that small changes can tackle extreme weather.” His 2021 article “Capitalism is killing the planet — it’s time to stop buying into our own destruction” has just won the Orwell Prize for Journalism.

George Monbiot, welcome back to Democracy Now! Well, why don’t you first describe what it’s like in Britain right now, why this is so unusual, and what are the remedies?

GEORGE MONBIOT: So, by comparison to what many other parts of the world have been suffering, particularly India this year and large parts of sub-Saharan Africa, you might not think it’s very much, two days of 40-degree — 40 degrees centigrade — heat. But for Britain, which is famous for its mild, not to say, rather, gray and chilly and rainy climate, it was a massive shock stepping outside and feeling like you’re walking into a fan oven because of the hot wind blowing off the streets into your face. It just felt all wrong. It felt like something has gone very badly awry here in this famously chilly and mild climate. And it bust all the records. We saw the sort of wildfires, which are totally unfamiliar in the parts of the U.K. where they happened.

And it looks like a glimpse of a future that’s rushing towards us all too quickly. These are the sort of weather events that climate scientists were saying, well, you know, we might see this with 2 degrees, possibly 3 degrees, of heating. Well, here we are at 1.2 degrees centigrade of global heating, and it has already come.


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