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As Europeans begin their summer holidays, forecasters are warning that this season could bring scorching temperatures to the region, sparking fear among authorities that this summer’s hot spell could match the heat wave that occurred three years ago, which caused the death of more than 30,000 people across the continent.
Along the Mediterranean Sea, coastlines have already begun to sizzle, with temperatures hitting 115ºF (46ºC) in Greece, considered the highest ever recorded for the country in the month of June.
In Romania, the health ministry reported that 30 people have already died as a result of breathing problems due to the blistering heat, which topped 106ºF (41ºC).
And in Turkey, where temperatures soared to 111ºF (44ºC), a man died after collapsing on a beach.
Not only have the scorching temperatures put Europeans’ health in danger, they have also sparked wildfires and power blackouts in various countries. In Greece, the excessive heat was responsible for igniting 95 wildfires across the nation, and continuous air-conditioning use caused blackouts across the country. Citizens in Italy were also forced to battle wildfires, with temperatures in Southern Italy and the island of Sicily topping 113ºF (45ºC).
In an effort to conserve energy and prevent further blackouts, European authorities have taken measures to assure protection for its residents. Across the heat-heavy Balkans, workers and children were sent home, and Greek officials warned against unnecessary travel. Local Romanian authorities provided bread and water for the elderly.
Experts are unsure if the heat wave is a result of global warming, but they are certain the increased consumption of fossil fuels used for traveling and augmented use of appliances has played a role in the torrid summer temperatures in Europe during the past decade—and will continue to do so if lifestyle changes are not practiced throughout the world within the next few years.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which investigates global warming worldwide, recently issued a report warning that the earth will continue this trend, unless consumption is not reduced drastically within the next 50 years. However possible it is to achieve such a goal, IPCC Chairman Rajendra Pachauri said at a conference in Bangkok that it is important society as a whole take responsibility for its own actions in order to impact global warming and combat the possibility of increasing summer temperatures throughout the world in years to come.
“What is an extremely powerful message in this report is the need for human society as a whole to start looking at changing lifestyles and consumption patterns,” Mr. Pachauri said.
With a heat wave continuing to plague the continent, it is certain that Europeans will be forced to do just the opposite to keep cool this summer.