From fires to floods: extreme weather events are happening around the world | World | Latest news and insights from around the world | DW

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On Monday, in many parts of Greece, the high winds eased, so the fires were not fueled further. However, the respite for rescue workers will likely be short-lived as another heat wave with temperatures over 40 degrees is on the way – with the potential to make the situation worse.

Forest fires have been raging in Greece for weeks, north of Athens and on the island of Evia in particular. While firefighters are slowly controlling the flames on the mainland, fires are still blazing on the island of Evia and also on the Peloponnese peninsula. But, even in areas where the situation seems to have calmed down, individual embers can quickly reignite. A lot of people have lost everything. “It was a paradise, with rare trees, peacocks and game,” an ash-stained resident told a DW correspondent. “Look at it now, a lunar landscape, everything burned down.”

Fires in Greece are not unusual during hot summers, but the scale of the 2021 fires is. According to the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS), nearly twice as many forests had burned in Greece as of August 5 than the average for the years 2008 to 2020. In addition to climate change, the causes of the destructive flames are complex and often artificial: a carelessly thrown cigarette smoldering on the dry ground, shards of glass from a broken bottle that work like magnifying glasses.

World on fire

Some of the fires are said to have been started deliberately to make way for new homes. Intense heat further fuels the flames in the truest sense.

Droughts, fires and floods are making life increasingly difficult in many parts of the world. Firefighters in Mediterranean countries, including Italy, Turkey, North Macedonia, Bulgaria and the Balkans, have also been trying to contain the fires for weeks. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called the fires the worst in his country’s history.

Fires are raging on the west coast of the United States, Canada and Russia, where the Forest Protection Agency on Monday recorded about 240 fires across about 3.5 million hectares (8.65 million acres ) – an area as large as the German state of Baden-Württemberg. . The Yakutia region is particularly affected. The smoke drifts south, to the border with Mongolia. Smoke from the forest fires has meanwhile reached the North Pole, a first in history, according to the US space agency NASA.

Few regions were spared the extreme weather events of summer 2021

In northern California, emergency services are battling the Dixie fire. With more than 80,000 hectares burned, it is the second largest fire in the history of California, according to the authorities. “It was like stepping out of a war zone you see in a movie,” Tami Kugler, who fled Greenville and now lives in a tent at an evacuation station, told AFP news agency . The historic town of Greenville during the Gold Rush has been completely destroyed. Fires are also not uncommon on the west coast of the United States, but the relentless heat has made the region particularly vulnerable to fires.

‘Our future’

According to the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, extreme weather events such as droughts will become more frequent in the future. Climate researchers have long agreed that the progression of global warming dramatically increases the likelihood of extreme weather conditions. Warmer air in the Mediterranean region, for example, can cause the air to absorb more water vapor, which in turn falls to the ground in the form of heavy rains that can lead to severe flooding – which s’ is produced most recently in the North German states Rhénanie-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate, as well as in Belgium. “Extreme weather conditions are now part of our future,” said DW Levke Caesar, climatology researcher at Maynooth University in Ireland.

Cars have piled up on a flooded street

More than 300 people died in severe flooding in China’s Henan Province

China, India and Myanmar are also grappling with severe flooding.

Rainy days caused severe flooding in central China’s Henan Province, scores of people died and hundreds of thousands of people lost their homes.

The monsoon in India has been more severe than it had been for decades. More than 40 people were killed in a single landslide. In Myanmar, too, people are fighting the troubled floods. In Bangladesh, villages housing Rohingya refugees have been flooded.

Man in organ firefighter costume leans on a shovel, haze in the background

In California, the Dixie fire swept through entire cities

African countries are also struggling with flooding. Lagos, the economic center of Nigeria, was flooded in July. The growing city’s sewage system is inadequate. In South Sudan, around 90,000 people have been affected by flooding following heavy rains, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said a few days ago, pushing thousands of people to to run away.

This article has been translated from German.


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