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Jul 26, 2023, 8:25am EDT

The Mediterranean is on fire

REUTERS/Ramzi Boudina
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The News

Fires raged across parts of the Mediterranean, killing dozens in Algeria and forcing tens of thousands to evacuate in Greece and Italy. Two pilots were also killed during a firefighting mission in on the Greek island of Elvia.

As temperatures across the region soared close to 50 degrees Celsius — more than 120 degrees Fahrenheit — experts warn of potential new blazes and the expansion of existing ones.

We’ve collected analysis and reporting on the region’s climate emergency.

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Insights

  • The record-setting heatwaves that struck Europe during July would have been “virtually impossible without climate change,” experts from World Weather Attribution, an academic research institute, said. If the world continues to warm and reaches 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, previously rare heatwaves could become common, “occurring every two-five years.” — The Financial Times
  • The heatwaves have left hundreds of thousands across Sicily without power or running water. A mayor in the region said his city had been “brought to its knees” by temperatures approaching 50 degrees Celsius, more than 120 degrees Fahrenheit, which had melted underground cables. High temperatures across Europe and North Africa have affected utilities, airports, and public transport. As heat waves increase in intensity and duration, repair bills could become expensive. “Most of our existing infrastructure was designed based on temperature averages 60 to 80 years ago,” an expert in engineering and critical infrastructure told The Wall Street Journal, “but these aren’t the conditions we are facing today.”
  • The heat is also causing a housing crisis in Algeria and “there is no plan to deal with that,” said Yamina Saheb, a member of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. “There are not enough resources to stop the fire” or to house the thousands of people who have been displaced throughout the country, Saheb said. — BBC
  • This summer confirmed that “fires are a permanent and constant challenge” for Greece, the editorial board of Kathimerini, one of the country’s leading newspapers, said, warning that “the worst is yet to come.” The board called for the strengthening of the country’s firefighting service and a policy redesign from the fire administration to focus on prevention.
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