‘Earth sends a warning’: how the papers covered the UK’s scorching heat

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The Guardian

A picture of a Queen’s Guard sentry being given a sip of water outside Buckingham Palace is the defining image on Tuesday’s front pages, as the heatwave put the climate crisis in fresh focus.

All but a couple of the front pages feature the picture of the guardsman in his bearskin hat taking much-needed relief from the heat which on Monday topped 37.4 degrees in west London and a nationwide high of 38.1C in Santon Downham in Suffolk.

The prospect of an even hotter day on Tuesday provides a flurry of warnings on the front pages.

“Record highs, travel chaos, schools close … and it’s going to get hotter”, says the Telegraph with a large image of the sentry from the Irish Guards on the front. A second story on the front carries comments from Prince Charles’ that the record-breaking heat had proved him right on the climate change “emergency”.

A Met Office heatmap of Britain makes for a striking front page in the i along with the headline “Earth sends a warning”.

The Sun has a closeup image of a possibly different Irish guardsman visibly sweating under the famous headwear. “Britain is melting”, says the main headline, with subheads reading “Record 41C ‘to hit today’” and “Runways KO’d by sun”.

The Guardian has a composite of different images from around the country but goes with a more politically focused headline: “Johnson accused of ‘checking out’ as Britain swelters in searing heat”.

The Mirror’s headline is “Record baker” over a picture of sunbathers in sunny North Tyneside and the subhead “Hottest day today with more to come”.

The Times leads with “Tory race thrown wide open” after the latest leadership ballot saw Liz Truss close the gap on Penny Mordaunt. It also has the weather story with the headline “Crazy heat stops trains and melts runways”.

The Mail also leads with the Tory race, claiming “Mordaunt’s No10 bid hits buffers”. At the top of the page it carries the picture of the guardsman with the headline “Sunny day snowflake Britain had a meltdown”, pointing to inside coverage that appears to lean towards the sceptical variety.

It’s the same in the Express where the headline has a cunning reference to the weather: “Can Truss turn up heat to battle Rishi in run-off?”

The Metro warns the country to “Get ready for… hottest day ever” with forecasts of 41C in some parts on Tuesday.

The Financial Times uses the guardsman for its picture story on the front and the headline “Drop guard: Britain braced for more heat”. The main story is about the Cambridge-based tech firm Arm: “Arm’s London listing plan on hold after Johnson’s fall sparks turmoil”.

July 19, 2022 at 08:16AM Martin Farrer

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