In what has already been a brutal summer of heat waves across much of Europe, temperature records are expected to be broken in parts of the U.K., Germany and France this week, putting thousands of lives in danger.
Temperatures are expected to reach as high as 109°F on Tuesday in locations where air conditioning is not a common amenity, and health officials are warning that excess deaths due to heat are all but guaranteed. With temperatures forecast to be 15°F to 30°F above normal, the U.K. Met Office issued a first-ever extreme heat warning, and scorching conditions could drag on for weeks.
More than 1,000 people have been killed in Spain and Portugal due to heat-related causes in recent weeks. Temperatures around the continent are expected to shatter all-time records Monday and Tuesday, and the death rate is expected to rise sharply. With luck, it won’t mirror the toll of 70,000 who were killed during a heat wave in Europe in 2003.
With the extreme heat that scientists have shown is linked to climate change, wildfires have erupted on the continent. In a pine forest left parched due the rapid evaporation caused by high temperatures, nearly 1,700 firefighters in France have been battling an enormous blaze near Bordeaux.
“The situation is critical, mainly because the weather is unfavorable to us,” Vincent Ferrier, a French official, told reporters Monday.
Wildfires, made more frequent due to rising global temperatures, have also erupted in Spain and Portugal, forcing thousands from their homes. As shocking as the effects of climate change have been to witness in recent years, scientists continue to warn that they will worsen as long as humans continue to pump greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.