Paris.- Europe is dying not only of heat but also of thirst. Depleted aquifers, dry lakes, scorched crops, hundreds of communes without drinking water, raging Fires that claim lives and consume thousands of hectares Forests… As a result of continuous absence of rain and continuous heat waves exceeding 40°C with 10% humidity, More than half of the continent’s countries are suffering from unprecedented drought, forcing those responsible to take urgent measures. A According to experts, the dramatic situation is worsening.
“France is passing through a historic situation […] An exceptional drought. The most serious our country has ever recorded,” Prime Minister Elizabeth Bourne said last Friday, announcing the activation of a transitional crisis cell. In fact, you have to go all the way back to 1961 to find a comparable summer. Last month, the country recorded less than 10 mm. Rainfall: 84% deficit compared to a normal year during the same period.
Days, One Hundred French Communes They lack drinking waterAt the same time the Water tables are dry And the water levels of rivers and lakes across the country are dropping dangerously. Aggravating effect of extreme heat waves, The forest fire has already destroyed more than 43,000 hectares of forestThe The eternal snow of the snowy peaks of the Alps has lost three to seven metersThe wine harvest was brought forward by several weeks in the south – with heavy losses due to labor shortages – and agricultural harvests were impossible in the rest of the country because the grain died from lack of irrigation. In May, the National Federation of Agricultural Producers’ Unions (FSNEA) warned that yield losses in the sector could reach 40% if the situation persists.
The The consequences of these historic dog days They have affected all sectors of the national economy. Wheat shortages have led to a 20% reduction in flour production since May, a 4.5% increase in bread and a 13% increase in pasta. The maize harvest was down 18% from last year, and prices were up 17% in a single month. There is also a record Significant reduction in production of dairy products Hence, a substantial increase in prices added to the risk of shortages.
“The yield has decreased by 20% due to drought. Cows eat less in the fields and do not tolerate heat well. Yes, at this rate there is likely to be a milk shortage in France,” explains Benoît Mandrecy, president of La Laiterie des Ardenes.
Even tourism in the world’s most visited country has suffered its consequences. Thousands of travelers from the northern part of the continent decided to cut short their stay due to extreme heat. Even those who wanted to climb to the top of Mont Blanc could not do so after the decision of the local authorities to ban access. LDrought causes numerous stone falls representing mortal danger. Faced with the rudeness of the reviewer, the mayor of the commune of Saint-Gervais decided to request 15,000 euros as a deposit: the average cost of a rescue operation in the mountains … “and a burial”, says the mayor.
But France is not the only one. According to the European Commission (EC), 46% of the EU area is at “alert” level. That is, it presents a significant soil moisture deficit. In fact, according to a report published last week, 11% of the camp’s territory is already on alert. The situation is particularly alarming in countries such as France, Romania, West Germany, but also Italy, Greece and the Iberian Peninsula.
“Although all the countries of the European Union suffer from drought, 50% of the population lives in the Mediterranean regions. Water pressure Fixed in summer,” says meteorologist Francis Blown.
The current drought, which began earlier in the year, is in response to a significant rainfall deficit. Between September 2021 and April 2022, rainfall was 19% below average in areas placed at the “warning” level and 22% in areas under warning. Drought, reinforced by severe heat waves, hit the continent particularly early this year. According to experts, the situation is getting worse.
Due to lack of water, most European soils are affected. Compared to the May-June situation, the moisture deficit has increased in Hungary, Slovakia and Romania. Germany and Poland saw the situation worsen. In the south of the continent, France, Italy, Portugal, Greece and Spain were already in a difficult situation and it only got worse. Holland, “Land of Water”, Commissioned at the beginning of the month “water shortage” Officer.
Great Britain, for its part, experienced its hottest and driest summer since 1935, and the south of the country the driest on record. Faced with the unprecedented situation, many water supply companies announced Restrictions It affects millions of people.
Like France, most European countries imposed emergency measures. Italy, Greece and Spain limit air conditioning to 27°C In administrative and business premises. It was made mandatory for everyone to lock their doors during business hours. However, there is an exception: “bars, restaurants and establishments that include physical training, which can maintain the temperature at 25 ° C,” announced the Spanish Ministry of Environmental Change.
Almost everyone has decreed Prohibition on watering, washing vehicles and filling ponds. Many governments have begun circulating advertisements urging citizens to “adopt new habits.” That means collecting rainwater if possible, shortening shower times, turning off faucets while brushing teeth, and not starting the dishwasher or washing machine until the dishes or laundry are full.
But European leaders know that other structural measures are necessary to deal with these extreme situations. Last week, the European Commission called on 27 member states to step up wastewater treatment for reuse in the agricultural sector. Brussels gave a statistic to justify its gesture: 40,000 million cubic meters of wastewater are treated each year within the EU. But only 964 million are recycled. That is less than 2.5%.
According to experts, although this technology has enormous potential, it is not widely used. The champions in this regard are Cyprus and Malta, which reuse 90% and 60% of wastewater respectively. Spain holds 19%; Italy, 8%, while France barely reaches 3%.
“Introvert. Thinker. Problem solver. Evil beer specialist. Prone to fits of apathy. Social media expert. Award-winning food fanatic.”