climate change

Europeans feel the heat and worry about climate change 

A woman trying to cool down during the heatwave in Spain. Photo credit: Reuters / Marcelo del Pozo.

By Anders Lorenzen

As many parts of Europe were last week gripped by an early heatwave, Europeans hunting for shade were increasingly concerned over climate change.

In Spain, the heatwave was the hottest early summer temperature in 40 years. Temperatures reached 42 degrees C in Madrid and Zaragoza which are in central and eastern Spain. The last time these levels were seen so early in the year was in 1981.

In many parts of Spain, firefighters were fighting wildfires with Zamora near the western border with Portugal worst impacted.

Ironically, during an event about desertification Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez, warned people about over-exposure to the sun and reminded his citizens to remember to hydrate and to take care of the most vulnerable to avoid them suffering from heat stroke. Sanchez added: “The Iberian peninsula is an increasingly dry area and the flow of our rivers is slower and slower.”

In France, one area took a drastic decision to ban outdoor events. The temperatures in some regions of France climbed close to Spain at around 41-42 degrees C.

Drought crisis

In Italy, the drought-stricken farmers were counting their losses, as many northern Italian regions risked losing up to half of their agricultural output due to lack of rain. Lakes and rivers started to run dangerously low which put irrigation at risk. The federation of Italian utility companies, Utilitalia, last week warned that Po, the country’s largest river, was experiencing its worst drought in 70 years. This has left many sections of the vast northern waterway completely dried up.

While not nearing the extreme temperatures of southern Europe, even the UK was feeling the heat when the temperature on Friday last week topped 34 degrees C, incredibly hot for the island nation.  Brits flocked to parks, pools and the seaside to cool down, and even the dress code at the posh Royal Ascot Racecourse was altered to allow guests to shed jackets and hats once the royals had passed.

Over the years as the impacts of climate change have increased, countries around the Mediterranean Sea are growing ever more concerned about climate change.

These sorts of extreme heat events are precisely what scientists are warning we will see more of, as the climate continues to warm.

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