The temperature in central London yesterday reached 35.4C (95.7F) - the hottest on record - with Gravesend in Kent even hotter, at 35.9C (96.6F). Even in Glasgow it was in the 80s Fahrenheit, and the UK record of 37.1C (98.8F) could be broken on Saturday, forecasters said, as all across Europe the merciless sun roasts citizens, sets forests ablaze and makes rivers run dry.
But this heatwave is nothing compared to what global warming has in store, United Nations scientists say - and the international agreement to counter it is now hanging by a thread. Its name is Putin.
If Russia's leader and his government do not soon ratify the Kyoto Protocol - the global warming treaty - the whole agonisingly constructed international mechanism for trying to deal with climate change will fall apart. To the mounting concern of officials in many countries, they show few signs of doing so.
The danger is passing unremarked by most people feeling the heat this summer, a summer whose unusual temperatures and extreme weather events across the world have already been highlighted, and explicitly linked to global warming, by the World Meteorological Organisation.
India, Sri Lanka and the United States have registered record high temperatures, rainfall and tornadoes; continental Europe has seen forest fires like never before and great rivers such as the Po in Italy reduced to a trickle; and now it is Britain's turn.
Yesterday a mass of air with the heat of a desert enveloped southern England, breaking records. And the highest temperature recorded nationally, Gravesend's 35.9C, may be exceeded when even warmer air arrives on Saturday, possibly breaking the UK temperature record of 37.1C (98.8F) set at Cheltenham in 1990.
Here are some contact details if you wish to email Putin's office:
President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin
Government of the Russian Federation
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