As if the heat were not bad enough, the extreme heat has sparked wildfires. More than 14,000 people in the south-west of France have evacuated as the fires have spread, including from the popular Gironde tourist area. France has 22 regional departments on high alert, after fires have burned over 26,000 acres of land. One resident in southwest France called the fires “post-apocalyptic.”
The Mijas hills in southern Spain are also on fire, causing over 3,200 people to flee. And although the fires in Portugal are contained for now, the government reports that nearly 700 people have died because of the heat, mostly elderly.
Ellen McCurdy, living in the Málaga area, told Reuters: “We just grabbed a few essentials and just ran really, and by that stage everybody along the street was on the move… there were a lot of ambulances and fire engines.”
Other countries in the region are also affected. More than 1,300 people in Morocco have been forced to flee as firefighters battle blazes in the north. Greek firefighters are also battling in Crete, and several wildfires have broken out in Croatia as well.
Because of the severe heat, the vegetation is bone dry, as heat waves around the world have become more frequent and longer-lasting. Thousands of firefighters and water-bombing aircraft have been battling these blazes throughout the entirety of the Mediterranean.
Dr Eunice Lo, a climate scientist at Bristol University, told the BBC that “rising temperatures are a signature of climate change, and we need to stop burning fossil fuels, and act now and quickly.” She also explained that in the UK, 2,000 extra deaths a year were attributable to heatwaves.
If the citizens of the world want to cool things off and avoid future raging wildfires, however, something must be done. We need global leaders who will take a stand and make our world a safer place, especially for our children.