Wildfires Burn, Farmers Struggle as Another Heatwave Bakes Western Europe!
European nations sent firefighting teams to help France tackle a “monster” wildfire on Thursday, while forest blazes also raged in Spain and Portugal and the head of the European Space Agency urged immediate action to combat climate change.
More than 1,000 firefighters, with the help of water-bombing planes, fought for a third day against a fire in the Gironde region of southwestern France. The fire has forced thousands of people out of their homes and burned thousands of hectares of forest.
With a dangerous cocktail of blistering temperatures, tinder-box conditions, and wind fanning the flames, emergency services were struggling to bring the fire under control. “It’s an ogre, a monster,” said Gregory Allione from the French firefighter’s body FNSPF said.
In the past few weeks, heatwaves, floods, and melting glaciers have made people more worried about climate change and how extreme weather is getting more common and worse all over the world.
The head of the European Space Agency, Josef Aschbacher, said rising land temperatures and shrinking rivers as measured from space left no doubt about the toll on agriculture and other industries from climate change.
In recent weeks, the ESA’s Copernicus Sentinel-3 satellites found “extreme” land surface temperatures of more than 45C (113F) in Britain, 50C in France, and 60C in Spain.
“It’s pretty bad. We have seen extremes that have not been observed before,” Aschbacher said.
In Romania, where record temperatures and drought have dried up rivers, Greenpeace activists protested on the dry banks of the Danube to bring attention to global warming and urge the government to cut emissions.
This summer, Europe has been hit by a series of heatwaves, searing temperatures, and droughts that have never happened before. This has brought attention back to the risks that climate change poses to farming, industry, and people’s lives.
Severe drought is set to slash the European Union’s maize harvest by 15pc, dropping it to a 15-year low, just as Europeans contend with higher food prices as a result of lower-than-normal grain exports from Russia and Ukraine.
Swiss army helicopters are being used to bring water to cows, pigs, and goats that are too hot and thirsty to walk in the Alpine meadows.
In France, which is going through its worst drought on record, trucks are delivering water to dozens of villages where the taps have run dry. Nuclear power plants have been given permission to keep pumping hot waste water into rivers, and farmers are warning that a lack of feed for animals could cause milk shortages.
This summer, Germany didn’t get much rain, which lowered the water level of the Rhine, the country’s main commercial river. This made shipping harder and pushed up freight costs. But as Europe deals with another heatwave, there is one group of workers who have no choice but to sweat it out: food couriers who work in the gig economy and often fall through the cracks of labor laws.
After the mayor of Palermo on the island of Sicily in July ordered horses carrying tourists to be given at least 10 liters of water per day, bicycle courier Gaetano Russo filed a suit demanding similar treatment. “Am I worth less than a horse,” Russo was quoted as saying in a Nidil CDIL union statement?
Britain’s Met Office on Thursday issued a four-day “extreme heat” warning for parts of England and Wales.