The bell rings for Europe, it is warned that it may experience the worst
Europe may be facing one of its most difficult years when it comes to drought, an extremely dry weather that is hitting several Mediterranean countries, reports albinfo.ch.
That’s the warning from EU Commissioner Maroš Šefčovich, who told lawmakers on Thursday that “the current drought in Europe could become the worst ever”.
Prolonged drought conditions have already hit several EU member states, including Greece and Italy, raising concerns across Europe for months to come.
Last month it was reported that an unusually rapid heat wave in France and Spain could jeopardize wheat crops, as it comes after a dry spring.
Italy is experiencing its worst drought in 70 years, and authorities worry that prolonged drought could lead to serious shortages of drinking and irrigation water, affecting local populations across northern Italy.
In June it was reported that water levels were so low in Italy’s largest river, the Po River, that local residents were walking across the sandy expanse and bringing sunken boats to light.
In a park near the village of Gualtieri, cyclists and hikers stopped to see the Zibello, a 50-meter-long boat that transported wood during World War II but sank in 1943. The ship was normally submerged.
Portugal and Spain
On Friday, Portugal’s government declared an eight-day state of alert due to an increased risk of wildfires, with the drought-stricken country bracing for temperatures of up to 43°C. This brings with it “a significant worsening of fire danger” until July 15, government departments said.
The restrictions approved on Friday include banning citizens from forests deemed to be at high risk. In 2017, forest fires killed more than 100 people in Portugal.
At the end of June, 96% of the country was classified as in “extreme” or “severe” drought.
Meanwhile, in some parts of Spain, temperatures are expected to reach 42 degrees Celsius this weekend.
The country’s reservoirs are averaging 45% capacity, according to government data, a worrying development for an EU member state that saw only half its 30-year average of rain in June.
Earlier this week, Romanian authorities asked the population to cut back on water use, as a severe drought is depleting resources needed for electricity generation and agriculture. Romania is one of the largest wheat producers in the EU.
Romanian Environment Minister Barna Tanczos told reporters that drinking water must be conserved, while watering gardens and filling swimming pools must be limited, with water levels in the country’s 40 main reservoirs expected to drop from 82% now to 68%. until the end of July. and 70% of the country is currently affected by drought.
Earlier this month, France’s EDF announced it may be forced to cut its nuclear output due to prolonged high temperatures and insufficient river water, which is used to cool nuclear reactors before being returned to the river in a higher temperature.
Regulations are in place to limit reactor output during times of extreme heat and low water levels.
“We have a special year because of the drought that started early, especially in south-eastern France. But overall there is a little less water available this year,” said Catherine Laugier, EDF’s environment director, at a July 5 press conference.
Greece suffered some of Europe’s most devastating forest fires in August 2021, and many are worried the country is poised to experience similar fires in the future.
In June, a wildfire raged out of control on Evia, Greece’s second-largest island, highlighting the growing danger, and on Thursday Šefčovich said the EU was already funding the deployment of more than 200 firefighters from across the bloc to t dealt with the fires in Greece.