*Unrelenting heatwaves and hellfires are raging around the globe. August has commenced where July’s fury ended, more furnace-like heat.
This weekend Spain and Portugal may set an all-time European heat record eclipsing Athens, Greece, at 118.4 Fahrenheit (F), recorded on July 10, 1977.
It’s not just that a North African high is pumping scalding bone-dry air and mega tons of dust over the Iberian Peninsula. It’s also that the fire risk is extreme. 20 percent of Portugal is tinderbox dry. 11,000 intrepid firefighters and 56 water-bombing aircrafts are on emergency standby to combat forest fires.
Already this summer, European heatwaves spawned firestorms that have consumed 92 people in Greece.
The threat of even more intense fires remains all too real.
For the second consecutive week, Britain endured “Furnace Friday” with all its emergency services operating on red alert. Rainfall during the week eased water restrictions in the south, including lifting the ban on watering gardens and trees.
Incessant European heatwaves spreading across the continent have oven-like heat pouring off the city streets of Zurich, Switzerland. It’s so oppressive and intense that police dogs must wear special shoes to protect their paws from second-degree burns and ulcers.
The sweltering heat in northern Germany has suffocated millions of fish. Heat has prevented oxygen from circulating in freshwater. No oxygen, no fish. More than 11,000 pounds of dead rotting fish were removed from ponds and lakes near Hamburg. Firefighters and other emergency service workers are now pumping oxygen into some lakes in a last-ditch effort to resuscitate them.
Further north and to the east, heatwaves this summer have laid waste to permanent mountaintop ice. On Sweden’s Mt. Kebnekaise, the highest mark diminished from 6,893 to 6,879, or, 14 feet, relinquishing the south peak title to its northern counterpart.
Parts of the European Arctic Circle registered record temps of 90F.”
Unbearable temperatures across Finland forced water-starved reindeer to brazenly cool off in lake water amongst sunbathers at Vantaa beach, near Helsinki. In parts of northern Finland at latitudes beyond 65 degrees, the average temperature is 16F above normal. Unprecedented.
Meanwhile in California, the heat is full on. For the second consecutive year, the month of July in Death Valley recorded its highest average temperature of 108F, smashing the 2017 record by half a degree.
A horrid heat dome over California has created “firenadoes”, or, plume-driven hellfires, that reach almost four miles into the heavens.
The Carr Fire and its fire vortices that violently ripped mature trees out of the earth are the worst ever recorded on the planet. It’s the new “not” normal catastrophes, the climate in crisis that’s engulfing our planet. Raging walls of fire have destroyed more than 1,500 structures and killed at least six people. In terms of acreage, it’s California’s sixth worst fire with tens of thousands of animals roasted to death.
The Ferguson Fire on the western flank of Yosemite National Park has scorched almost 74,000 acres, burning for 22 days while creating toxic air worse than that of Beijing, China. A decade of drought and 130 million beetle-killed water-starved trees are providing an endless source of kindling.
In California, the Ferguson Fire air is now worse than the world’s 2nd most polluted city, Beijing.”
Elsewhere around the state, 13,000 firefighters are battling 16 large fires. 17 states have offered assistance to California, sending help from as far away as Maine and Florida.
So what’s driving these inferno heatwaves?
More than 560 billion metric tons of heat-trapping CO2 from burning subsidized fossil fuels are locked in the oceans. It’s the equivalent heat of detonating 300 Hiroshima-style atomic bombs every minute for 75 straight years. Quite simply, the oceans are broiling. Since the oceans drive our climate, we should all be terrified because even geo-engineering cannot suck that heat from the ocean.
“Not only should we not be surprised to see the increasing frequency of the hot extremes and wet extremes, but even more directly they actually should be expected,” remarked Stanford University professor Noah Diffenbaugh.
The only sensible plan of action is to immediately reduce fossil fuel emissions. End the$5.3 trillion annual subsidy program to the biggest, wealthiest polluters on the planet – Big Oil and Coal.
We have the breathtaking technology from supercritical steam of solar concentrated farms and lithium-ion battery storage stations to power all towns and cities. So what’s holding us back from a zero combustion global economy? Fossil fuel subsidies.
Do the world leaders really believe that they and their propped-up planet-killing petroleum oligarchs are going to Mars while the rest of us suffer more hideous heatwaves and hellfires? Ladies and gentlemen, we must not go quietly into this ghastly impoverished future!
Dr Reese Halter is an award-winning broadcaster, distinguished conservation biologist and author.