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Wildfires are devastating southern Europe

Emergency services are working round the clock to control an ‘extreme’ blaze that’s been fuelled by strong winds and soaring heatwave temperatures.

At least eight people have been killed and dozens hospitalised as a result of devastating wildfires in Turkey that have been raging for over a week.

Investigators are currently trying to establish whether they were started deliberately, but evidence of this theory is scarce.

The ‘extreme’ blaze, more likely fuelled by a heatwave that’s seen temperatures soar above 40°C, has spread to parts of Greece, Italy, and Bosnia, leaving thousands displaced. Tourists at various beach resorts have also been evacuated by boat, according to the BBC.

The worst crisis of its kind that southern Europe has experienced in a decade, and one that shows no signs of abating, it’s yet another cause for concern in our fight against climate change.

Namely because experts have directly linked the disaster to the increasingly frequent and intense weather events that have taken place across the planet in recent months.

‘It is not at all unexpected,’ says professor of climate science, Dann Mitchell, ‘and is undoubtedly enhanced due to human-induced climate change. This is the most severe heatwave on record.’

From South America’s widespread frosts to flooding in China triggered by a year’s worth of rainfall in only three days – not to mention news that the Amazon Rainforest is now emitting more CO2 than it’s able to absorb – the scenes of destruction in Turkey are just one more example of the growing ferocity of our environmental emergency.

Though authorities reported on Tuesday that 130 blazes had been contained by firefighting services working round the clock, Turkey’s president has drawn scorn for his handling of the situation, which he describes as a ‘global threat,’ akin to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Among the criticisms of Erdogan’s government have been its mothballing of planes to combat the forest fires and its decision to contract for only three Russian planes in their place.

‘People are having a very hard time, but the government should be doing this with our taxes, not us, says volunteer Cem Taylan. ‘It was predictable. This is not fate, you can manage the harm these fires cause.’

Lacking the equipment and resources to extinguish the blaze that’s already claimed 118,789 hectares of land, the country has been forced to seek international aid.

A social media campaign titled #HelpTurkey took off early Monday morning and in a matter of hours reached 2.5 million tweets with well-known celebrities joining the appeal. Today, it’s urging anyone who can to show their support.

You can get involved here if you’d like to help!

 

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