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Wildfires burn, farmers struggle as another heatwave bakes western Europe

View of burning trees in the Gironde, south-western France. 11 August 2022.

European countries sent firefighting units to France to tackle a “monster wildfire” on Thursday (11 Aug). Forest fires also broke out in Spain and Portugal, and the head the European Space Agency called for immediate action to stop climate change.

With the support of water-bombing aircrafts, more than 1000 firefighters fought for a third day against a fire that had displaced thousands and burned thousands of hectares in France’s Gironde region.

Emergency services struggled to control the dangerous mix of tinder-box conditions, blistering temperatures and wind that fanned the flames.


Gregory Allione, FNSPF’s French firefighters body, said that “it’s an ogre and a monster.”

Recent heatwaves, floods, and crumbling glaciers have raised concerns about climate change and the increase in extreme weather events across the globe.

Josef Aschbacher (head of European Space Agency) said that rising land temperatures and shrinking river levels as seen from space leave no doubt about the impact on agriculture and other industries due to climate change.


ESA’s Copernicus Sentinel-3 satellite has recently measured extreme land temperatures at more than 45C (113F), 50C in France, and 60C in Spain.

It’s quite bad. Aschbacher stated that extremes have been seen before.

Greenpeace activists marched along the Danube’s banks in protest against global warming.

With the recent heatwaves that have swept Europe this summer, record temperatures, and droughts, climate change has been brought to the forefront of concerns for agriculture, industry, and livelihoods.

A severe drought will reduce the European Union’s maize harvest to 15%. This would bring it down to a 15 year low. It is also a reminder that Europeans are facing higher food prices due to lower-than-normal grain exports to Ukraine and Russia.

Swiss army helicopters were drafted to transport water to the thirsty goats, cows, and pigs that had been left sweltering in the country’s Alpine meadows.

France is experiencing its worst drought in history. Trucks are now delivering water to many villages. Nuclear power stations have been granted waivers to continue pumping hot water into rivers. Farmers warn that a shortage of fodder could lead to shortages.

Germany’s summer drought has caused a shortage of rainfall, which has led to a decline in the Rhine’s water level, which is the country’s main commercial artery. This has made shipping difficult and increased freight costs.

However, Europe is currently battling another heatwave. One group of workers cannot help but sweat it out: gig economy food couriers, who often slip through the cracks in labour regulations.

After Palermo, the mayor of Sicily’s island in July demanded that horses transporting tourists were given at least 10 litres per day, Gaetano Russo, a bicycle courier filed a lawsuit demanding the same treatment.

Russo said, “Am I less valuable than a horse?” in a Nidil CDIL union declaration.

The Met Office in Britain issued Thursday a warning about extreme heat for parts of England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

More than 1,500 firefighters in Portugal spent six days fighting wildfires in central Covilha, which has destroyed more than 10,500 hectares (40 miles) of land. This includes parts of the Serra da Estrela National Park.

Spain: Electrical storms in Spain triggered new wildfires, and hundreds were evacuated from the path blazes in Caceres.

Macron’s office stated that additional firefighting aircraft had arrived from Greece and Sweden. Germany, Austria and Romania were also sending firefighters to fight wildfires in France.

“European solidarity at the work!” Macron tweeted.

Belin-Beliet was evacuated by police after firefighters claimed they were able to save it. The blaze spread to the outskirts of the village, leaving behind charred homes and ruined tractors.

“We have been blessed. Our homes were saved. You can see the devastation over there. “Some houses couldn’t be saved,” stated Gaetan, pointing out the houses that were burned to the ground.

In July, the Gironde was ravaged by wildfires.

“The area has been completely disfigured. Jean-Louis Dartiailh (a local mayor) said Radio Classique that he was heartbroken and exhausted. “(This fire is the last straw.”

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