Heat wave: Western Europeans wilt in early summer, raising fears of climate change

Heat wave: Western Europeans wilt in early summer, raising fears of climate change

Heat wave: Western Europeans wilt in early summer, raising fears of climate change



Reuters

Spain has its hottest temperatures at the beginning of summer, part of France banned outdoor events, and drought haunted Italian farmers as a heat wave left Europeans hunting for shade and concerned about climate change.

It was such a heat that the luxurious Royal Ascot Racecourse in England even saw a rare change of protocol: guests were allowed to throw off hats and coats once the royals had passed.

“Avoid excessive sun exposure, hydrate and care for the most vulnerable so they don’t get heat stroke,” advised Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez in Madrid at an event, appropriately, on desertification.

Temperatures reached 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) in Madrid on Friday, the national weather agency AEMET said. A level not seen this early in the year since 1981.

Northern Italian regions are at risk of losing up to half of their agricultural production due to drought, a farmers lobby said, as lakes and rivers begin to run dangerously low, jeopardizing irrigation.

The federation of Italian utilities, Utilitalia, warned this week that the country’s longest river, the Po, was experiencing its worst drought in 70 years, completely drying up many parts of the vast northern waterway.

The heat wave put pressure on energy systems as demand for air conditioning threatens to push prices up, adding to the challenge of building up inventories to protect against further cuts in Russia’s gas supply.

In France, the Gironde department around Bordeaux banned public events, including concerts and those in covered locations without air conditioning, a local official said.

“Everyone is now at a health risk,” Gironde prefect Fabienne Buccio told France Bleu radio.

Temperatures in many of the French areas reached 40 degrees Celsius for the first time on Thursday and are expected to peak on Saturday, rising to 41-42 degrees. In Tarascon, southern France, a record night temperature of 26.8 degrees Celsius was measured in June.

Fourteen administrative divisions were red and schoolchildren had to stay at home in these areas. Speed ​​limits were lowered in several regions, including around Paris, to limit tailpipe emissions and a buildup of harmful smog.

The British Weather Service said Friday was the hottest day of the year yet, with temperatures above 32 degrees in some parts of the south east.

Parks, pools and beaches were packed, and while many were enjoying a day of fun and freedom after two years of periodic pandemic restrictions, some were also concerned.

“I’m from Cyprus and now it’s raining in Cyprus… and I cook here, so something has to change. Sooner or later we have to take precautions against climate change because it worries us all,” said student Charlie Uksel, who visited Brighton, south of London.

“Now we enjoy it, but for the long term we can sacrifice.”

Mediterranean countries are increasingly concerned about the impact of climate change on their economies and lives.

“The Iberian Peninsula is an increasingly drier area and our rivers are flowing more slowly,” added Spanish leader Sanchez.

Firefighters fought wildfires in several parts of Spain, with Catalonia in eastern Spain and Zamora near the western border with Portugal being the hardest hit.

In Zamora, between 8,500 and 9,500 hectares have been reduced to ashes.

The cloud of hot air spared Portugal on Friday, where temperatures were not as high as in other European countries, with Lisbon likely to reach 27 degrees Celsius.

Last month, however, was the warmest May in 92 years, Portuguese weather agency IPMA said. It warned that most of the area is suffering a severe drought.

Portugal’s reservoirs have low water levels, with the Bravura dam of the most affected being only 15% full.