European heat wave sends temperatures to record highs in Belgium, France, and Germany
Europeans are facing record-breaking temperatures hitting over 100 degrees Fahrenheit as another heat wave takes over the continent. Europe's heat wave is threatening the health, and lives, of residents who aren't prepared to handle such uncommon temperatures. The New York Times reported a number of local governments issuing warnings about the heat. In France, where the temperature hit 108.6 Fahrenheit, 80 regions were placed on the second-highest alert level and 73 regions were placed on water restrictions due to a drought.
Over half of England's regions are one level short of a national emergency due to the temperatures in areas reaching and surpassing 100 degrees. The British weather service issued special caution over vulnerable individuals, such as the elderly and children, who are particularly at risk of heatstroke and dehydration.
The heat and dry air did no favors for firefighters in Portugal, either, as they fought against wildfires that have destroyed approximately 22,000 acres so far.
According to The Guardian, officials in Belgium put the entire country on 'red alert' as temperatures reached 105 Fahrenheit — the highest ever recorded in the country's history. In Germany, where the heat hit 106.7 degrees Fahrenheit, the temperature caused lowered water levels in rivers, prompting officials to ban cruises on the River Danube in areas.
The BBC also reported temperatures as high as 104 Fahrenheit for the Netherlands as well, where hundreds of pigs died as air ventilators failed in the heat. Nighttime has offered little shelter from the hot air; AccuWeather noted Paris's lowest temperatures still hovering around 77 degrees Fahrenheit.
The intense heat brings danger to areas where some buildings aren't insulated against the heat properly and homes lack air conditioning — according to the Washington Post, less than five percent of European households have air conditioning. Even public transportation can be risky, with older train cars that lack air conditioning causing Paris Metro passengers to faint.
Officials in various effected countries have recommended outdoor workers to seek shelter from the heat whenever possible. Travelers and commuters also need to stay hydrated and avoid riding trains or buses if they're not feeling well.
In a statement made on Wednesday, the chief environmental public health scientist at Public Health England, Owen Landeg, requested that people continue to check on the elderly, chronically ill, and young children during the heat wave.
"The extreme heat means that our bodies, especially our hearts and lungs, have to work harder to maintain a normal temperature," he stated. "This is why our advice focuses on reminding people to keep an eye on those who are most at risk."
Temperatures like this in Europe are supposed to be uncommon, but man-made climate change is increasing the frequency and likelihood of intense heat waves during the season.
Commenting to the Associated Press, Pennsylvania State University climate scientist, Michael Mann, remarked that "[e]ither of the two European heat waves this summer would have been remarkable in isolation. But now we are seeing multiple episodes of record heat in a given summer. By mid-century, we will simply call these episodes ‘summer’ — if we continue on this trajectory."
The United States won't be spared from dangerously hotter and longer summers, either. Last week, a report by the Union of Concerned Scientists predicted that most states will be looking at an increased number of days consisting of 100+ degree temperatures within the next two decades if humans do not take action against climate change. By 2050, New York could have 29 days of weather that reaches 90 degrees or higher. And for already-hot states like Arizona, that number increases to 90 days per year.