Last week’s scorching temperatures in North America’s Pacific Northwest were more than just another heat wave. The 49.6 ° C recorded in the small town of Lytton in British Columbia was not simply the highest temperature on record in Canada, it also challenged computer models of how the world might change as emissions rise. Our global environment editor Jonathan Watts looks at how the rare phenomenon known as heat dome is part of a growing trend toward extreme weather events, while climate science professor Simon Lewis explains why global warming is causing a most of the planet is too hot for humans.
Since the Soviet invasion of the 1970s, Afghanistan has spent four decades as a battleground for proxy wars between competing nations and ideologies. As US and British troops withdraw, Emma Graham-Harrison returns to Kabul, where she spent several years as a foreign correspondent, to find little optimism and much anxiety about the resurgence of the Taliban.
Despite a worrying increase in the Delta variant of Covid-19, England will end almost all pandemic restrictions on July 19. The world is looking to see if the UK’s mass vaccination program can allow for a normal life alongside the virus, explains scientific editor Ian Sample. And Sarah Boseley, writing her final article as the Guardian’s outgoing health editor, tells the story of the Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine, designed to be the world’s affordable screen against Covid, but which has been plagued with controversy.
In features, Elle Hunt explores the strange underwater world of jellyfish and wonders why they seem to be proliferating around shores in increasing numbers. And on our culture pages, Kate Kellaway from the Observer describes artist Paula Rego before a major new retrospective in London.