Expats in the Netherlands often repeat the saying “I love summer in the Netherlands. It is my favorite day of the year”. However, in the last few years this slightly sarcastic joke has started to become somewhat irrelevant.
A very clear example is the heatwave, which is currently baking the entire Northern and Western parts of the continent. The region has never experienced such temperatures in June. The temperatures yesterday and today are on average 20 to 30 degrees (11 to 17 degrees Celsius) higher than normal. This is also the outlook for the coming few days. At places the actual measured temperatures hit 95 to 105 degrees (35 to 40 degrees Celsius), and these can be higher in cities with “heat islands”.
Record breaking June temperatures are expected in France, Austria, Germany, The Netherlands and Switzerland. At some places, it is also foreseen that all-time records might be broken too, even though they were set in July and August.
The cause of the heatwaves are two high pressure systems. One of them was formed over Greenland and the other one over Northern Europe. These days, the systems are joining forces blocking the low pressure systems, and keeping them offshore. The high heat comes from Spain and the Sahara desert, and it is locked over Northern and Western Europe.
I do see quite a number of people being very happy about this. They consider it a great opportunity for late night outdoor parties and visits to the beach, pools and parks.
Unfortunately, it is not this simple. Such heatwaves can be silent killers. Elderly, people with respiratory and heart problems and those without homes, are particularly at risk. Governments continue to issue warnings and advice to stay indoors, drink more water, eat fresh food. The fatalities and emergency calls, however, continue to increase.
In addition, the drought at this time of the year threatens the agricultural production, and increases the chances of wild fires. Severe thunderstorms are also expected, causing additional damage to the precious crops.
Looking at the forecast, things are not about to change much. The extreme temperatures will only be observed over the course of these few days, however, Europeans should prepare for quite a hot month ahead.
But what does this mean? To me the answer seems quite obvious. We are somewhat failing to tackle the damaging aspects of global warming. The efforts are nowhere near great enough. Policies and drastic measures are not being imposed fast enough. And of course, the majority of the people are being ignorant and still fail to take responsibility for their actions.
We can still do something about it. OK, perhaps there is not much we can do about this heatwave besides find the best and least damaging way to deal with it.
But looking at the big picture. Let’s focus on sustainability, mindful living, recycling, using of clean transportation, and all those tips that are continuously give to us. Every little helps. Remember this!
Image (c) Weatherbell.com