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by Mick the Ram
Climate change continues to demonstrate its effects all over the planet, with Brazil the latest to be hit with record temperatures. The South American country recorded its hottest ever temperature – 44.8C (112.6F) – whilst in the grips of an unforgiving heatwave.
The new record was reached on Sunday 19 November in the town of Araçuaí, in the south-eastern state of Minas Gerais.
The oppressive heat all across the country has seen red alerts posted in almost 3,000 towns and cities, and all this occurring whilst the actual beginning of summer in the southern hemisphere is still a month away.
The stifling temperatures led to global superstar Taylor Swift cancelling one of her concerts in Rio de Janeiro, after a fan was taken ill and sadly died before one of her shows.
Hope is that temperatures have peaked
The new record high beat the 44.7C measured back in 2005, and officials are desperately hoping that temperatures have now peaked. Forecasters are actually predicting an easing of the unbearable heat as the week progresses, but a heatwave of such intensity, and coming so early in the season, is a massive concern for everyone.
Humidity making life unbearable
The city of São Paulo has seen average temperatures of 37.3C in the past few days, and Rio de Janeiro recorded an astonishing 42.5C at the weekend, which in itself is a record for November. To compound matters further, the high humidity actually meant that it felt like 58.5C, so it was reported by the municipal authorities.
More than a hundred million people have been affected by these shocking temperatures and there are serious concerns at the danger to health they bring.
Energy consumption at record levels too
Official research released at the start of the month showed that the average temperature in the country had been above the historical average from July to October, with a knock-on effect seeing Brazil’s energy consumption also soar to record levels, as people try to keep themselves cool.
Pop Superstar left devastated by death of fan
The death of a fan left Taylor Swift devastated. She had been due to perform in Rio, but cancelled after the incident at her show 24 hours earlier. Ana Clara Benevides Machado, a 23-year-old, had sought help at the stadium after feeling unwell.
She was transferred to hospital, but tragically died one hour later. It is understood that the cause of death has been given as cardiorespiratory arrest.
Huge concern in stadium
In videos and pictures circulated on social media, Ms Swift was seen urging staff at the stadium to give water to fans during the concert; indeed at one point, while singing All Too Well, she was seen throwing a water bottle into the crowd herself.
The superstar singer released a statement on Instagram saying that her heart was “shattered”, before adding: “She was so incredibly beautiful and far too young.”
The performer later apologised for the late postponement, but reiterated: “The safety and well-being of my fans, fellow performers and crew has to and always will come first.”
El Niño heightens the impact
The remarkable shift in weather patterns can also be attributed to the El Niño phenomenon. These events occur irregularly at two to seven year intervals, and during one of these phases the Earth’s temperatures typically increase significantly.
It impacts trade winds and the wider atmosphere, and induces unusual warming of surface waters in the eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean, from Australia to South America. This then can cause the jet stream to move south of its neutral position, as Brazil can now testify.