Jul 26, 2019

As Extreme Heat Becomes New Normal in Europe, Governments Scramble to Respond

France
by
Elian Peltier
,
The New York Times
The body of a victim in Paris of the 2003 heat wave, which pushed France to develop a nationwide plan to deal with heat waves. Credit: Jean-Francois Deroubaix/Gamma-Rapho, via Getty Images
The body of a victim in Paris of the 2003 heat wave, which pushed France to develop a nationwide plan to deal with heat waves. Credit: Jean-Francois Deroubaix/Gamma-Rapho, via Getty Images

In France, a once uncommon word is increasingly on people’s lips: “canicule,” or heat wave, and its growing usage is a stark reminder of what scientists say may be the new normal: extreme heat and its deadly toll.

Across France this week, and also in Britain, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands, heat records were smashed, leaving millions of Europeans searching for solutions to endure temperatures soaring above 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

With summers getting hotter, and their populations suffering — and dying — officials across Europe have been scrambling to come up with measures to protect desperate residents in places that never even had the need for air-conditioning before.

...

Since 2018, [France's] national heat prevention plan has been extended from June 1 to mid-September, instead of Aug. 31 — a sign, meteorologists said, that heat risks now spread across a longer period.