People cool off in a water fountain during a heatwave, at Trafalgar Square in London

By Vatican News staff reporter

July 20 2022

Britain saw temperatures exceed 40C for the first time on Tuesday after experiencing its warmest night on record, while wildfires raged across tinder-dry countryside in France, Spain and elsewhere in Europe.

There is still no let-up in the heatwave engulfing many parts of Europe.

Wildfires continue to burn in Spain and France as water bombing planes douse the flames.

The climate link

Two people were killed in blazes in Spain and hundreds have died from the extreme heat. The country’s Prime Minister went so far as to link the heatwave to global warming saying “Climate change kills.”

Climate scientists say heat waves are more intense, more frequent and longer because of climate change — and coupled with droughts have made wildfires harder to bring under control.

Droughts and wildfires

As France sees record breaking temperatures, firefighters battle blazes which have forced more than 31,000 people from their homes in the Gironde region.

While forests burn in parts of Europe, countries such as Italy are experiencing extended droughts.

Extreme heat warning

This summer heatwave has also extended northwards to Britain where the country issued its first-ever extreme heat warning. The Chief Executive of the UK Met Office, Penelope Endersby described the current extreme heat as unprecedented. A record high temperature of 39.1C was provisionally recorded on Tuesday in Charlwood, Surrey, in southern England.

Heatwave to continue

Elsewhere, the Balkans region has not remained unscathed, and is due to experience soaring temperatures later this week. Early Monday, authorities in Slovenia said firefighters brought one wildfire under control, and Croatia sent a water-dropping plane there to help after struggling last week with its own wildfires along the Adriatic Sea.  Western Germany and Belgium were also braced for potentially record-breaking temperatures.

In Greece, firefighters had got to grips with 73 fires within 24 hours, and the country’s civil protection authority warned on Tuesday of a very high risk of fires across the country. – Vatican News