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France Sizzles – in more ways than one

Wildfires are blazing across Europe and the temperature in France goes up and up — on the thermometer and in French politics.

As President Emmanuel Macron battles a political forest fire in the Legislative Assembly, Météo-France activated a red alert in 12 departments.

This signalled the earliest heatwave since records began. It is only the fourth time a red heat alert has been issued since 2003 — the hottest summer on record since 1540. France was particularly badly prepared and there were almost 15,000 heat-related deaths.

France sizzles in extreme weather

French water reserves have fallen to alarming levels with rainfall in the first part of the year down by a third. France’s Agriculture Ministry has warned that lower than usual winter rainfall has threatened crop yields at a time when the war in Ukraine has already severely disrupted food supply chains.

French hydrologist and weather extremes specialist, Emma Haziza warns, “We’re running head-on into climate change.” 

While Nick Kyrgios was playing against both himself and his opponent Novak Djokovic at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, spectators were enjoying the classic symbol of British tennis — strawberries and cream. They’ve been part of the tournament since 1877.

But in France, strawberry growers are leaving large quantities of fruit to rot as hot temperatures mean everything ripens at once, overwhelming their capacity to harvest. Predictions point to the coming summer being very difficult for European farmers.

France sizzles amid rumours & leaks

In Paris, Macron’s second term as President of the Fifth Republic got off to a shaky start. A slew of incriminating documents and text messages were leaked to the Guardian and investigative journalists worldwide. French opposition deputies have denounced what they say appears to have been close collaboration — even unlawful dealings — between Macron and Uber. And this was at a time when the company was trying to get around tight French government regulation of their sector.

United Kingdom: life is not all strawberries

France Sizzles - in more ways than one

UK politics is in a tailspin too.

Boris Johnson is finally out for telling fibs — which he’s been adept at getting away with all his life.

But it’ll take an estimated eight weeks to work out who’ll take over.

So, virtual gridlock in the world’s fifth biggest economy — and at a time of serious issues.

Post Brexit differences still rage over where the Northern Ireland border is exactly. Scotland is intent on pushing for an independence referendum, and a recent report says, a fifth of the British Government contracts awarded to respond to the covid-19 pandemic, is possibly corrupt.

UK inflation is playing havoc with weekly shopping bills. During the Covid lockdown, the UK Food Foundation reported that 1 million adults stated that they or someone in their household have had to go a whole day without eating in the past month because they couldn’t afford or access food.

Temperatures of 40°C have been forecast and the Met Office has issued the first ever Red warning meaning illness and death could occur even “among the fit and healthy”.

Simultaneously the arcane PM selection process is in train in Britain. Two hundred thousand Tory Party members — less than 0.3 percent of the population—will select the winner through a postal ballot. This only mildly democratic process is expected to cough up a new PM by early September. But judging by what the candidates are saying on TV, no one seems to have any idea what to do next anyway.

The Sizzling Antipodes

On the other side of the globe, research in Australia points to the climate being the ‘overwhelming factor’ in driving fires. It’s also a hot political issue. Several high-profile politicians lost their seats to pro-climate
independents when Scott Morrison’s government was recently dumped.

Global sizzling

France Sizzles - in more ways than one

Worldwide energy price and cost of living hikes and the long shadow of Covid have all pushed the world’s most pressing problem out of the headlines. Global warming hardly gets a look-in. The climate change movement is off-balance. Protests, marches, and strikes are off the streets and out of sight. The Glasgow Climate Pact pledges are starting to look like a pipe dream. So, are we on track to achieve net zero by 2050? Here’s the short answer: NO!

What can we look forward to?

OK, OK, that’s enough pessimism. Remember the 109th Tour de France is on. Yes! Twenty-one stages and 3,346 kilometers long. But the race’s environmental claims are under scrutiny—again. The bike race’s carbon footprint is conspiring against the cyclists. Too many cars, planes, busses, helicopters, motorbikes, and too much plastic.

Although it’s hard, let’s try to end on a positive note. Here’s a summer Wishlist:
– We can only hope that the fires are controlled; that
– Covid 19’s resurgence is contained; that
– the war ends one day; and that
– the French President puts his pride in his pocket and gets on with uniting France. And that
– the Tour makes it to Paris on time.
But at this point, all that looks like a very big ask.


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Image credits:
1. Emma Haziza : Après l’alerte lancée par le Giec, via Youtube
2.- 3. Creative commons
4. Boris Johnston copyright Ray Johnstone
5.- 6. Creative commons


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