Environment

Thousands evacuated as California wildfire grows

by David McNew with Michael Mathes in Washington Agence France-Presse MIDPINES, United States (AFP) — A fierce California wildfire expanded Sunday, burning several thousand acres and forcing evacuations as tens of millions of Americans sweltered through scorching heat. More than 2,000 firefighters backed by 17 helicopters have been deployed against the Oak Fire, which broke out Friday near Yosemite National Park, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) said in a report. […]

Call for max working temperature cap after EU heatwave deaths

by Patrick Galey Agence France-Press PARIS, France (AFP) — Trade unions called Monday for the European Commission to impose maximum temperature limits for outdoor workers, after three people died while on shift in Madrid during last week’s withering heatwave. While a handful of member states have legislation limiting working hours in excessive heat, the thresholds vary and many nations have no nationwide heat limits. According to research by the polling agency Eurofound, 23 percent of […]

UK breaches 40C for first time, heat records tumble in France

by Joe JACKSON with AFP Europe bureaus Agence France-Presse LONDON, United Kingdom (AFP) — A punishing heatwave fuelling ferocious wildfires in western Europe pushed temperatures in Britain over 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) for the first time on Tuesday and regional heat records tumbled elsewhere. Grassland fires erupted on the edge of London, with one forcing the evacuation of 14 people as farm buildings, houses and garages were consumed by the flames. “I was […]

‘Shocking’ report lists devastation to Australia wildlife

by David Williams Agence France-Presse SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — Australia’s unique wildlife is being devastated by bushfires, drought, habitat loss and global warming, a government report said Tuesday, warning that more species were headed for extinction. The five-yearly State of the Environment report prompted calls for dramatic action to reverse the “poor and deteriorating” state of flora and fauna depicted by scientists on land and at sea. The damage is being hastened by a climate […]

Climate change’s fingerprints on ever hotter heatwaves

    PARIS, France (AFP) — Hotter, longer, more frequent. Heatwaves such as the one currently roasting much of Europe, or the record-shattering hot spell endured by India and Pakistan in March, are an unmistakable sign of climate change, experts said Monday. – Humans to blame – “Every heatwave that we are experiencing today has been made hotter and more frequent because of human induced climate change,” said Friederike Otto, senior lecturer at Imperial College […]

France braces for record temperatures

PARIS, France (AFP) — France was bracing Monday for the peak of the heatwave gripping the country, with crushing temperatures expected from the Mediterranean as far up as Brittany in the northwest. Forecasters have put 15 departments across the country on the highest state of alert for extreme temperatures, including Gironde in the southwest where forest fires have already wrought havoc. In the Landes forest, in the southwest Aquitaine region, temperatures “will be above 42 […]

Vulnerable Pacific islands call for ‘urgent, immediate’ action on climate

  by Maddison Connaughton Agence France Presse SUVA, Fiji (AFP) — Vulnerable Pacific islands demanded “urgent, immediate” global action on climate change Thursday, while stressing a commitment to democracy and the “rules-based” international order in the face of growing Chinese regional influence. At a key summit in the Fijian capital Suva, island leaders warned time was running out to avoid “worst-case scenarios” that would see their countries — many teetering just above sea level — […]

Indonesian islanders sue cement giant Holcim over climate damage

  ZURICH, Switzerland (AFP) — Residents of Pulau Pari, an Indonesian island threatened by rising sea levels, are suing cement giant Holcim over its carbon dioxide emissions, a Swiss charity said on Tuesday. “Holcim… bears a significant share of the responsibility for the climate crisis as well as for the situation on… Pari,” Yvan Maillard Ardenti, climate expert at Swiss Church Aid (HEKS), said on the charity’s website. The complaint was lodged on Monday with […]

Western Europe wilts under second heatwave in weeks

  by Benoit Petit, with AFP Bureaus in Europe Agence France Presse BORDEAUX, France (AFP) — France and Britain were set to suffer soaring temperatures on Wednesday, with a heatwave in Western Europe fuelling wildfires across vast stretches of forestland. Since Sunday, large parts of the Iberian Peninsula have seen temperatures surpassing 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) in Spain and Portugal, where firefighters have battled wildfires. In southern France since Tuesday afternoon, a wildfire ripped […]

‘Desperate for water’: drought hits Mexican industrial powerhouse

by Sofia Miselem Agence France-Presse MONTERREY, Mexico (AFP) — Maria Celia Navarro smiles wistfully as she remembers the now-unthinkable luxury of taking a shower in her home before a water shortage struck one of Mexico’s wealthiest cities. Nestled in mountains a few hours’ drive from the US border, industrial powerhouse Monterrey boasts living standards that many Mexicans could only dream of. Residents of the northern city, whose metropolitan area is home to around five million […]

Pakistan’s prized mango harvest hit by water scarcity

by Ashraf Khan Agence France-Presse MIRPUR KHAS, Pakistan (AFP) — Mango farmers in Pakistan say production of the prized fruit has fallen by up to 40 percent in some areas because of high temperatures and water shortages in a country identified as one of the most vulnerable to climate change. The arrival of mango season in Pakistan is eagerly anticipated, with around two dozen varieties arriving through the hot, humid summers. This year, however, temperatures […]

Western US drought brings Great Salt Lake to lowest level on record

LOS ANGELES, United States (AFP) — Water in Utah’s Great Salt Lake has fallen to its lowest level ever recorded, authorities announced this week, a result of the ongoing drought impacting the western United States which scientists warn has been exacerbated by climate change. The average depth of the massive saltwater lake, the largest in the Western Hemisphere, fluctuates naturally with the seasons and local precipitation. But the economically and environmentally important basin has never […]