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U.N. chief says extreme heat will ultimately threaten humanity, 'no nation immune'

Climate summit in Berlin seeks solutions on impact of recent weather events

By A.L. Lee
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U.N. chief says extreme heat will ultimately threaten humanity, 'no nation immune'
The sun rises behind the Empire State Building and the Manhattan skyline in New York City on March 14. U.N. chief Antonio Guterres said at a climate conference Monday that "no nation is immune" from the effects of severe climate change. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

July 18 (UPI) -- U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres issued an ominous warning Monday, saying humanity faces "collective suicide" from the impact of extreme climate events, including wildfires and heatwaves that are currently wreaking havoc around the world.

Guterres' declaration came as Britain declared a national emergency in bracing for the hottest day ever on record, with temperatures possibly soaring to as high as 106 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the Evening Standard.

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"Half of humanity is in the danger zone, from floods, droughts, extreme storms and wildfires," Guterres said at the Petersburg Climate Dialogue in Berlin, according to The Guardian.

"No nation is immune. Yet we continue to feed our fossil fuel addiction. We have a choice. Collective action or collective suicide. It is in our hands."

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Guterres made the remarks to representatives from 40 countries meeting in Berlin this week to discuss the climate crisis and other pressing world issues.

Children in St. Louis, Mo., beat the 100-degree heat by splashing in a waterfall at the City Garden on July 5. An excessive heat warning was issued for the area early this month and temperatures topped 100. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI

Across Europe, fallout from the extreme heatwave was palpable as warm air was expected to move northward from London toward Manchester and Leeds. And for the first time, Britain issued a "red alert" -- meaning the heat was a threat to life.

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In London, several tourist attractions planned to limit visitors or close early, and zoos took steps to protect their animals by keeping them indoors. In Spain, a firefighter was killed Sunday while battling a fire.

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Wildfires have devastated lands across Europe and South America, while temperatures have smashed records in India, southern Asia and parts of Africa in recent months.

In the United States, meanwhile, the situation was much the same, with Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas, and large swaths of the Great Plains seeing temperatures rise as high as 110 degrees.

The Petersberg Climate Dialogue lasts through Tuesday and may be the final chance by world leaders to agree on climate solutions before the COP27 climate summit in Egypt in November.

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The ministers at the conference Monday also discussed the recent impact of inflation on food and fossil fuels.

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