EDITORIAL

Climate change didn't get much talk time in the United States Democratic Party debate last week at Detroit. In the typical way such events are absorbed these days, it came down to two soundbites.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee, who's trying to build a presidential bid around raising awareness of climate change, yelled: "The house is on fire!"

A fellow candidate, businessman Andrew Yang, argued that we are "10 years too late" and should "move our people to higher ground".

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Most talk focused on elephant-sized problems such as healthcare rather than the mammoth one.

But if people worldwide still struggle to look doomsday in the eye amid issues that seem more immediate, Mother Nature is forcing us to focus.

AP reports that a study by experts in France, the Netherlands, Britain, Switzerland and Germany found July's record heat wave in western Europe was made more intense by human-caused climate change. Temperatures would have been 1.5C to 3C lower otherwise, the study said.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says World Meteorological Organisation data shows July "at least equalled if not surpassed the hottest month in recorded history" — after the hottest June ever. He added that "this is even more significant because the previous hottest month, July 2016, occurred during one of the strongest El Nino's ever," which was not the case this year.

Britain's weather service last week said the UK's 10 hottest years since the 19th century have all occurred since 2002. Arctic areas including Russia, Alaska, Canada and Greenland are engulfed in fires that can be seen from space. The fires are releasing previously stored carbon dioxide and methane.

Although northern summer wildfires are common, the BBC cites the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (Cams) as saying the location and intensity of these fires as well as the length of time they have been burning has been unusual.

Late last week journalist Laurie Garrett posted video of a river of glacial melt at Kangerlussuaq, Greenland. Climate scientist Ruth Mottram, of the Danish Meteorological Institute, told CNN and AP that in July 197 billion tonnes of ice melted. She said the average is usually 60 to 70 billion tonnes.

As her fellow Democrats recovered from the Detroit debate, US Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez shared the Greenland video. She commented: "Those who argue that a Green New Deal is too ambitious don't see that glacial melt isn't waiting — in fact it's happening at a much faster rate than predicted. We don't have time to argue. We need to act — on a massive scale."

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Even in the wintry south, climate change is causing heated political arguments.

Greens co-leader James Shaw referred to National Party leader Simon Bridges and his colleagues as the "new climate deniers".

Conservative Australian commentator Andrew Bolt took aim at Swedish schoolgirl activist Greta Thunberg, calling her "strange" and "disturbed".

Meanwhile, the globe is yelling: "The house is on fire!"