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Forecast: too hot for Wimbledon by 2050

Should ecocide be treated like genocide? Today, tennis fans in London are likely to be huddling under umbrellas. But scientists have warned that it may soon be extreme heat that stops play. The temperature on Wimbledon’s Centre Court has just hit 40C. Beads of sweat are pouring down the face of the world number one as he prepares to take his serve. Gone is the luscious grass of the All England Club. Instead, the players slip and slide on a bowl of dusty soil. High up in her chair, the umpire throws a glass of icy water directly into her own face. In the stands, a fan collapses into his strawberries and cream. It sounds horrific. But this is what England’s only major tennis tournament could look like by the year 2050, according to a series of predictions by the Met Office. And it is not just tennis that could be thwarted by climate change. Imagine Tiger Woods at the US Open in Florida, swinging his club on a golf course a metre underwater and invaded by alligators. Or skiers at the Winter Olympics, crashing down a mountainside with no snow. Some people do not have to imagine. Already, people around the world are witnessing extreme and unusual weather conditions. On Tuesday, the residents of Lytton, Canada sweltered in highs of 49.6C. By Wednesday, they were evacuating as a wildfire closed in on their homes. “It’s dire,” said Lytton mayor Jan Polderman. “The whole town is on fire.” Across the province of British Columbia, officials recorded a 195% increase in sudden deaths. “Many of the places humans currently live on the planet are on their way to being functionally uninhabitable by humans,” warns climate policy expert Matthew Lewis. “So please, help your city prepare for refugees. Because the heat is coming. It’s already here.” Indeed, for ecologists and ordinary citizens alike, the 'heat dome' suffocating parts of North America has highlighted the fragility of the planet humans call home. Now, some are calling on officials worldwide to make harming the environment an international crime. In June, after six months of intense discussions, a panel of twelve legal experts published a draft law officially defining ecocide. They hope it will soon be adopted by the International Criminal Court, making ecocide as serious an offence as genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. “If something’s a crime, we place it below a moral red line,” declares Jojo Mehta, co-founder of the Stop Ecocide campaign. “At the moment, you can still go to the government and get a permit to frack or mine or drill for oil, whereas you can’t just get a permit to kill people because it’s criminal.” For years, corporations and governments have hunted species to extinction, felled hectares upon hectares of rainforest and poured dangerous smog into major cities. In 2010, an explosion on a BP drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico caused the largest marine oil spill in history. A decade later, the region’s dolphins are still sick and dying. Now, ecocide campaigners say it is time for the individuals responsible to face prison. Should ecocide be treated like genocide? Boiling point Definitely, say some. Emmanuel Macron, Greta Thunberg and Pope Francis all support making ecocide a crime. Treating ecocide like genocide will cause a major shift in global attitudes towards the environment, and make organisations think twice before they act in a way that could harm the planet. The world is burning. We must use every power we have to save it. It is more complex, say others. Treating ecocide like genocide will not change anything. We must address the root, everyday causes of climate change, not single devastating events. And the ICC is not foolproof. It cannot prosecute corporations or countries. It has not eradicated war crimes, despite outlawing them. And many major polluters, like the US and China, are not even members of the court. KeywordsMet Office - The Meteorological Office is the United Kingdom's national weather service. It was established in 1854 to provide a gale warning service for shipping.

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