Jul 19, 2022
Europe struggles with major wildfires and energy uncertainty amid ‘heat apocalypse’ Transcript
An intense heat wave has gripped much of Europe, with scorching heat, buckling roads, raging fires and hundreds of people dead. Read the transcript here.
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Speaker 1: (00:00)
While scorching heat, buckling roads, raging fires and 100s dead already, an intense heat wave has gripped much of Europe. Today, in the town of Nantes, France, a reading of 107.6 Fahrenheit. Temperatures touched 100 in the UK. Paris, London and Rome inch closer to 100. Madrid was 102. It is the worst heat wave in years and as special correspondent, Malcolm Brabant reports, most of Europe cannot cope.
Malcolm Barbant: (00:29)
It’s Sunday afternoon in the English Channel. We’re just off Dover. We’ve just left. Before we got on the ship the temperature was a very pleasant 75 degrees Fahrenheit. But we’re just racing ahead of a North African weather system which is sweeping north which is going to send temperatures in Britain this week to a record-breaking 104 degrees Fahrenheit, which is a red warning. Normally in Britain people like a little bit of sunshine but this sort of temperature could kill people.
Malcolm Barbant: (00:58)
The British reputation for keeping cool and carrying on evaporated in tropical temperatures. Trafalgar Square became a spa for the day.
Reiner Can Den Heurel: (01:07)
Well, you walk from shadow to shadow so anywhere that you have to stay in the sun for a long time, that’s off limits. So you will have to deal with sticking in places like we are now as opposed to walking next to the Thames or any place like that.
Malcolm Barbant: (01:24)
Though the mercury didn’t reach predicted heights, it was brutal enough for the British. Infrastructure wilted. The Faber Air Show coped with the heat.
Speaker 5: (01:32)
It is hot.
Malcolm Barbant: (01:35)
But runways at a military base at the main tourist airport melted and flights were suspended. But beneath the bear skins, ceremonial soldiers maintained the composure expected for a Coldstream Guard. On the European mainland close to the Mediterranean, wildfires raged out of control, causing 1000s to flee their homes. The situation has been dire in Spain and Portugal, where more than 1000 people have died from the summer heat, not the flames.
Malcolm Barbant: (02:05)
Firefighter Pedro Jose Vara.
Pedro Jose Vara Interpreter: (02:09)
We are scared. There’s a tomato plantation over there. If the wind changes this way, it burns down my parent’s house. If it changes that way, it burns down my wife’s work. That’s practically what we live on.
Malcolm Barbant: (02:21)
As the French headed to their beaches in droves, experts were warning of a heat apocalypse. According to latest reports, several 100 people have died in France. Fears about fatalities cross the boarder to Germany.
Malcolm Barbant: (02:35)
It’s just off lunchtime. I’m in Northern Germany heading for a ferry to take me to Denmark and ahead of the heatwave, the temperature for most of the day has been around about 77 degrees Fahrenheit. But tomorrow there is a heat warning for this region of Germany. The big news out of the country today is that at a climate conference, scientists have warned that the world is facing catastrophe because it’s just not going to meet the targets to keep temperature rise down to 1.5 degrees Centigrade. In fact, they’re predicting it will be three degrees Centigrade.
Malcolm Barbant: (03:07)
At the conference, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had this warning.
Antonio Guterres: (03:12)
Half of humanity is in the danger zone from floods, droughts, extreme storms and wildfires. No nation is immune, yet we continue to feed our fossil fuel addiction.
Malcolm Barbant: (03:25)
Germany’s Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock warned that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was exacerbating the climate crisis.
Annalena Baerbock: (03:33)
Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine is exacerbating a global energy and food crisis that is pushing millions into poverty, hunger and starvation. And while we are still grappling with the fallout from the pandemic, the impacts of climate change are becoming even more dangerous across the world.
Malcolm Barbant: (03:56)
As I headed further north on the ferry to Denmark, the temperatures cooled. The ship had a hybrid power system, using electric batteries to reduce reliance on traditional diesel engines. It’s an effort to curb climate change but it’s just not enough. For the PBS News Hour, I’m Malcolm Brabant in Denmark.