The world is grappling with dangerously high heatwaves where some countries like Greece and Japan are said to be roasting.
Extreme heat is predicted to occur worldwide, spanning from the United States, where tens of millions of people are grappling with dangerously high temperatures, to Europe and Japan. This serves as the latest example of the alarming consequences of global warming. Italy is expected to face historically high temperatures over the weekend, prompting the health ministry to issue a red alert for 16 cities, including Rome, Bologna, and Florence.
In eastern Japan, temperatures are expected to reach 38 to 39 degrees Celsius on Sunday and Monday, with the meteorological agency cautioning that previous temperature records could be surpassed. On the other hand, northern Japan’s Akita City has witnessed heavy rainfall in half a day, exceeding the average rainfall for the entire month of July. These downpours have triggered at least one landslide, leading to the evacuation of 9,000 people. Southern Japan has also experienced torrential rains in recent weeks, resulting in at least 11 fatalities and being described by the meteorological agency as the “heaviest rain ever experienced.”
The Italian meteorological center has cautioned citizens to brace themselves for “the most intense heatwave of the summer and one of the most intense ever recorded.” Rome is likely to reach 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) by Monday, surpassing the previous record of 40.5 degrees Celsius set in August 2007. Moreover, the European Space Agency has warned that the islands of Sicily and Sardinia could experience scorching temperatures of up to 48 degrees Celsius, potentially marking the highest temperatures ever recorded in Europe.
In India, relentless monsoon rains have claimed the lives of at least 90 people in northern parts of the country, following scorching heat. The Yamuna River in the capital, New Delhi, has surged to a record high of 208.66 meters, exceeding the flood top set in 1978 by over a meter. This poses a threat to low-lying neighborhoods in the megacity of over 20 million inhabitants. Major flooding and landslides are common during India’s monsoon season, but experts attribute the increasing frequency and severity to climate change.
Greece is also enduring scorching conditions, with parts of the country expecting highs of up to 44 degrees Celsius on Saturday, according to the national weather service EMY. The city of Thebes experienced a blistering 44.2 degrees Celsius on Friday.
Due to the expected temperature of 41 degrees Celsius, the Acropolis, Athens’s prominent tourist attraction, remained closed for the second consecutive day on Saturday, as did several parks in the capital. Regions of France, Germany, Spain, and Poland are also enduring sweltering temperatures.
In Iraq, where scorching summers and power outages are common, Wissam Abed shared that he used to cool off from Baghdad’s intense summer by swimming in the Tigris River. However, as Iraqi rivers dry up, so does this age-old pastime. With temperatures nearing 50 degrees Celsius and blistering winds, Abed stood in the middle of the river, but the water only reached his waist. He expressed concern about the worsening water situation, stating, “I live here… just like my grandfather did before me. Year after year, the water situation gets worse.”
The United States is also witnessing a powerful heatwave extending from California to Texas, reaching its peak over the weekend. Arizona, one of the most heavily impacted states, is subjecting residents to a daily battle against intense sunlight. Phoenix, the state capital, was expected to mark its 15th consecutive day above 109 degrees Fahrenheit (43 degrees Celsius) on Friday, according to the National Weather Services.
Authorities have issued warnings, advising people to avoid outdoor activities during the day and remain cautious about dehydration. The Las Vegas weather service has stressed that assuming high temperatures are merely a result of the desert climate is a dangerous mindset, emphasizing that the ongoing heatwave is not typical for the region. California’s Death Valley, known as one of the hottest places on Earth, is also likely to witness new temperature records on Sunday, possibly reaching 130 degrees Fahrenheit (54 degrees Celsius). Southern California is currently battling multiple wildfires, including one in Riverside County that has already consumed over 3,000 acres (1,214 hectares) and led to evacuation orders.
Morocco, although accustomed to hot weather, is expected to experience above-average temperatures this weekend, with some provinces reaching highs of 47 degrees Celsius, more typical of August than July. This has raised concerns about water shortages, as stated by the meteorological service. Water-scarce Jordan had to release 214 tonnes of water onto a wildfire that broke out in the Ajloun Forest in the north during the heatwave, according to the army.
Although attributing specific weather events to climate change can be challenging, scientists assert that global warming, associated with reliance on fossil fuels, is responsible for the multiplication and intensification of heatwaves worldwide. The occurrence of these heatwaves follows the EU’s climate monitoring service declaration that June was the hottest month on record globally.
A Twitter user tweeted while sharing pictures of blazing forest fires: “My heart goes out to all those who have lost their precious homes and belongings in Greece because of the wildfires brought on by the heatwaves that Europe is enduring #heatwave”
My heart goes out to all those who have lost their precious homes and belongings in Greece because of the wildfires brought on by the heatwaves that Europe is enduring #heatwave #HeatWaves #Greece pic.twitter.com/dSYKpvTPGX
— Lee Hood (@Mofoman360) July 17, 2023