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Half the World is Burning: What is Happening with the Heat Wave?

In Several Countries, Record Temperatures are being Registered. The United States, Portugal, the United Kingdom, France and Spain are Some of the Most Affected Nations by the Strong and Constant Heat Waves that are Leaving the Environment as the Biggest Victim.

Woman drinking water tolerating heat wave

Photo: Freepik

LatinAmerican Post | Daniel Alejandro Vergara

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Leer en español: Medio mundo está ardiendo: ¿Qué está pasando con la ola de calor?

This year has been considered one of the hottest in history and the consequences are being experienced and observed. Several countries have been breaking records for maximum temperatures never seen before. On July 19, at a press conference in Geneva, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) warned that at least until 2060 it will be common to observe these high temperatures and that they could become more intense.

Regarding the human factor, according to an article by the EFE agency, the director of health and the environment of the World Health Organization (WHO), María Neira, warned that these temperatures can affect vulnerable populations such as pregnant women, elderly, girls, boys and people with chronic diseases. Although high figures have not been recorded in terms of deaths after heat waves, the organization calls for staying in cool places, not performing high-intensity physical activity and constantly consuming hydrating drinks. Similarly, it urges various governments and private entities to modify working hours for people who have to work outdoors.

Various governments around the world are on high alert for what is happening. This Tuesday, the United Kingdom reached 40 degrees Celsius, a temperature not recorded on the islands since 1914. To the east of London, fires were generated that consumed about 7 houses. Until July 16, the United States registered about 92 maximum temperatures that broke the records established in other years, the country's Meteorological Service affirms that at least 40 million people are experiencing heat waves and their effects at the moment.

As stated by the WMO, Portugal reached 47 degrees these days, another historical temperature that suffocates and does not allow the life of the population to develop. For its part, in France, according to the EFE agency, 86 of 96 departments (not counting maritime territories) have been on alert for the heat wave. Both in this country and in Spain, there have been various forest fires, which have remained active for several days and even weeks. In fact, transportation systems such as trains have had to cancel routes and trips due to the danger posed by the forests consumed by the flames.

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Heat waves: a risk to health and the environment

For the agencies and organizations that defend the environment, not only the old continent, but the entire world, must be on high alert due to the number of hectares of jungles and forests that are being consumed. Isabel Rodríguez, spokesperson for the Spanish government, stated in a press conference that so far this year the fire has consumed nearly 70,000 hectares throughout the Spanish territory, as a consequence thousands of people have had to be evacuated from their homes; There are currently 25 active forest fires in the country. In an article on the 20 Minutes Spain portal, it is stated that so far this week, both in France and Portugal, nearly 15,000 hectares of forest have been consumed by the incessant flames.

It must be remembered that this type of fire, generated by high temperatures, destroys essential ecosystems for the absorption of CO₂, water storage and the protection of various species of fauna and flora, something that is essential for life on earth. In this way, biodiversity ends, as many species do not resist such strong and drastic changes. Likewise, other consequences of heat waves are the incineration of crops and droughts that will gradually influence the daily life of the various populations.

The WMO, although it was optimistic about the agreements that some nations have reached on climate change issues, urged that greater efforts be made to end the use of fossil fuels as energy sources and that resources be allocated not only to mitigate the consequences of these high temperatures, but in order to put an end to the causes of the impending climate crisis. Well, this is the main reason why the world is experiencing these unprecedented heat waves today, and they could be getting worse.

If you want to be aware of the various forest fires and hot spots that are generated in the world, NASA has opened to the public a web tool called the Fire Information System for Resource Management (FIRMS), information about the fires that affect most of the world is detailed in almost real time. You can access the FIRMS by clicking HERE