Extreme temperatures: what strategies are really effective?

Although the heat wave has abated in many European countries, the weather remains hot and dry. Portugal and Spain have registered 1,500 heat-related deaths in total, and wildfires continue to burn and are even spreading, particularly in Greece. Commentators call for a radical rethink and effective measures to deal with the climate crisis.

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Birgün (TR) /

Nuclear plants can't take the heat

Birgün finds it utterly ridiculous that nuclear energy is booming once more in the energy crisis:

“We need to take measures to counter the problems caused by the climate crisis, but this won't entirely protect us from the crisis. To get out of this crisis we need to build a different world in all areas, from energy to food supplies, and transport to production. ... And regarding nuclear energy: the nuclear power plants that are supposed to save us from the climate crisis have either been shut down or are operating at reduced capacity in Belgium and France because the cooling water is warming [in the heatwave]. So nuclear power plants that don't work properly in the heat are supposed to be our salvation? What a joke!”

Helsingin Sanomat (FI) /

Sooner or later it will be upon us too

Finland is not properly prepared for heatwaves, Helsingin Sanomat complains:

“Until now heatwaves in Finland never lasted very long, but Finland is not a remote island. ... In Finland we have traditionally prepared ourselves for cold weather, but we also need to prepare ourselves for hot weather. Even today, a single long heatwave can cause hundred of deaths. But adaptation has been very slow so far. Adaptation measures should include the development of energy systems which keep buildings and other spaces cool.”

NRC Handelsblad (NL) /

Adapt to the new hot normal

The country needs a structural overhaul, NRC Handelsblad notes:

“Since the heat is becoming more normal, in line with global warming, it is no longer enough to reduce the use of fossil fuels and cut CO2 emissions: the Netherlands needs to adjust to the heat. Just as we used to have to think about the consequences of rising sea levels and rivers bursting their banks. In other words we need to adapt our built-up areas. ... It also means that we have to think about our own apartments. ... And our cities need to be designed differently.”

eldiario.es (ES) /

Firefighting planes not fighter jets

Juan López de Uralde, former chairman of Greenpeace Spain and member of parliament, in eldiario.es rails against the brakes that are constantly being put on effective climate protection:

“We cannot allow the [climate change] deniers to discourage us. But we also need to denounce the less intense 'delay tactics', which are so detrimental to policies on emissions reductions. The grave consequences that we are experiencing at present must galvanise us into pushing for ambitious climate policies because once again, they have ceded priority, this time to the war in Ukraine. We need more firefighting planes to put out our forest fires and fewer fighter jets.”

Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

The right to days off during heatwaves

Occupational safety laws must also be adapted to climate change, the Süddeutsche Zeitung demands:

“There must be proper rules for the new, hot world. There needs to be a right to take days off during heatwaves. ... Working while sweat is running into your eyes is risky. If you keep going in heat like this, you are more likely to make mistakes, more likely to have an accident. ... Every company should be required to have a heat protection plan that employees can refer to. And it should inform its staff about how dangerous heat is and what measures they can take to protect themselves. All of this will cost money. But it's no surprise: climate change will be expensive.”

Adevărul (RO) /

Energy and food are interrelated

In Adevărul journalist Ion M. Ionita calls for different approach to irrigation:

“In Romania, 30 years on, we are still talking about vast agricultural irrigation systems which we never built. But with the sort of temperatures where water levels in the Donau are 2.5 times lower than the July average, where is this water for the irrigation canals going to come from? Is a gigantic system like this even tenable when the rivers have almost run dry? ... Maybe we need to take water from the sea and desalinate it. But for that we would need enough energy from renewables to avoid producing even more CO2. So what we need is an energy strategy that solves the food crisis.”

Lidové noviny (CZ) /

No political vision

The current heat shows that the city of Prague has failed to implement long-term projects such as the creation of green spaces, Lidové noviny is annoyed:

“Prague's mayor prefers to pursue foreign policy and would declare war on China if he could. ... Progress on infrastructure projects usually only happens in the long term. So the politicians serve their own interests, flex their moral muscle, remove statues, rename streets - but don't take care of the residents. ... Before the local elections in the autumn, there will be promises to that effect. But nothing will be done. Because by then there will be another dispute about the Christmas markets. This country has no political vision - and not only in local politics.”