The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Intense Heat Wave Hits Northern Europe
A searing heat wave has begun to spread across Europe, with Germany, France and Belgium experiencing extreme temperatures that are set to continue in the coming days.
In Germany, temperatures are expected to exceed 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) on Wednesday, topping the country's previous June record of 38.2 degrees Celsius, set in Frankfurt in 1947. Temperatures in Bonn on Tuesday afternoon reached 35 degrees Celsius.
Firefighters Braced for Busy Week
Climate researcher Andreas Marx has said that the lack of rain in much of the country, particularly in the north and east, the site of much of Germany's agriculture, could have disastrous consequences.
Forest fires are of particular concern for authorities in Germany, especially in the northeast. Local residents were asked to keep windows and doors closed in Lieberoser Heide — southeast of Berlin — while emergency services deal with a fire that broke out on Monday and spread to an area of about 10 hectares (25 acres), the size of 140 soccer pitches. It is expected to take a few days to put out.
Temperatures exceeded 30 degrees Celsius in Frankfurt on Monday.
Imago Images / R. Peters
'We Must Be Vigilant': Macron
Meanwhile, French national weather agency Meteo-France predicted that the hot weather could produce temperatures of up to 40 degrees Celsius, while German agencies suggested the heat may break records.
"It's unprecedented because it's hitting so early, in June. We haven't seen this since 1947," said Emmanuel Demael from the French meteorological agency on Monday.
French President Emmanuel Macron has urged people to be extra vigilant in the coming days.
"As you know, at times like these, sick people, pregnant women, infants and elderly people are the most vulnerable. So we must be vigilant with them and have prevention measures in place in order to intervene as quickly as possible," he said.
His call was repeated by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in Geneva: "Our message this week is simple: look after yourself, your family and your neighbors. A phone call or a knock on the door could save a life."
In 2003 an estimated 70,000 people died in Europe during a heatwave.
Heat Waves on the Increase
Scientists say heat waves of this magnitude are on the increase in Europe, further evidence that the Earth's climate is changing due to the burning of fossil fuels.
Stefan Rahmstorf of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research said "monthly heat records all over the globe occur five times as often today as they would in a stable climate."
"This increase in heat extremes is just as is predicted by climate science as a consequence of global warming caused by the increasing greenhouse gases from burning coal, oil and gas," he added.
Children Sent Home
In many countries, children were dismissed from class early or allowed to skip it entirely.
In France, final exams for students were delayed a week due to the heatwave.
Meanwhile, zoo animals across the continent were treated to special treats such as fruit icicles, buckets of water and swimming pools.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Deutsche Welle.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Will Sarni
It is far too easy to view scarcity and poor quality of water as issues solely affecting emerging economies. While the images of women and children fetching water in Africa and a lack of access to water in India are deeply disturbing, this is not the complete picture.
The Past is No Longer a Guide to the Future
We get ever closer to "day zeros" — the point at when municipal water supplies are switched off — and tragedies such as Flint. These are not isolated stories. Instead they are becoming routine, and the public sector and civil society are scrambling to address them. We are seeing "day zeros" in South Africa, India, Australia and elsewhere, and we are now detecting lead contamination in drinking water in cities across the U.S.
"Day zero" is the result of water planning by looking in the rear-view mirror. The past is no longer a guide to the future; water demand has outstripped supplies because we are tied to business-as-usual planning practices and water prices, and this goes hand-in-hand with the inability of the public sector to factor the impacts of climate change into long-term water planning. Lead in drinking water is the result of lead pipe service lines that have not been replaced and in many cases only recently identified by utilities, governments and customers. An estimated 22 million people in the US are potentially using lead water service lines. This aging infrastructure won't repair or replace itself.
One of the most troubling aspects of the global water crisis is that those least able to afford access to water are also the ones who pay a disproportionately high percentage of their income for it. A report by WaterAid revealed that a standard water bill in developed countries is as little as 0.1 percent of the income of someone earning the minimum wage, while in a country like Madagascar a person reliant on a tanker truck for their water supply would spend as much as 45 percent of their daily income on water to get just the recommended daily minimum supply. In Mozambique, families relying on black-market vendors will spend up to 100 times as much on water as those reached by government-subsidized water supplies.
Finally, we need to understand that the discussion of a projected gap between supply and demand is misleading. There is no gap, only poor choices around allocation. The wealthy will have access to water, and the poor will pay more for water of questionable quality. From Flint residents using bottled water and paying high water utility rates, to the poor in South Africa waiting in line for their allocation of water — inequity is everywhere.
Water Inequity Requires Global Action — Now.
These troubling scenarios beg the obvious question: What to do? We do know that ongoing reports on the 'water crisis' are not going to catalyze action to address water scarcity, poor quality, access and affordability. Ensuring the human right to water feels distant at times.
We need to mobilize an ecosystem of stakeholders to be fully engaged in developing and scaling solutions. The public sector, private sector, NGOs, entrepreneurs, investors, academics and civil society must all be engaged in solving water scarcity and quality problems. Each stakeholder brings unique skills, scale and speed of impact (for example, entrepreneurs are fast but lack scale, while conversely the public sector is slow but has scale).
We also urgently need to change how we talk about water. We consistently talk about droughts happening across the globe — but what we are really dealing with is an overallocation of water due to business-as-usual practices and the impacts of climate change.
We need to democratize access to water data and actionable information. Imagine providing anyone with a smartphone the ability to know, on a real-time basis, the quality of their drinking water and actions to secure safe water. Putting this information in the hands of civil society instead or solely relying on centralized regulatory agencies and utilities will change public policies.
Will Sarni is the founder and CEO of Water Foundry.
Note: This post also appears on the World Economic Forum.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Circle of Blue.
- Newark Water Filters Are Working, Tests Suggest - EcoWatch ›
- Newark's Lead Crisis Escalates - EcoWatch ›
- Mice exposed to nicotine-containing e-cigarette vapor developed lung cancer within a year.
- More research is needed to know what this means for people who vape.
- Other research has shown that vaping can cause damage to lung tissue.
A new study found that long-term exposure to nicotine-containing e-cigarette vapor increases the risk of cancer in mice.
Six months: That's how much time Mexico now has to report on its progress to save the critically endangered vaquita porpoise (Phocoena sinus) from extinction.
It may seem innocuous to flush a Q-tip down the toilet, but those bits of plastic have been washing up on beaches and pose a threat to the birds, turtles and marine life that call those beaches home. The scourge of plastic "nurdles," as they are called, has pushed Scotland to implement a complete ban on the sale and manufacture of plastic-stemmed cotton swabs, as the BBC reported.
By Tim Radford
Scientists in the U.S. have added a new dimension to the growing hazard of extreme heat. As global average temperatures rise, so do the frequency, duration and intensity of heatwaves.
Oscar-award winning actress and long-time political activist Jane Fonda was arrested on the steps of Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on Friday for peacefully protesting the U.S. government's inaction in combating the climate crisis, according to the AP.
By Caroline Hickman
I'm up late at night worrying that my baby brothers may die from global warming and other threats to humanity – please can you put my mind at rest? – Sophie, aged 17, East Sussex, UK