Europe's latest heatwave hits a new peak in Britain, while still devastating parts of southern Europe via wildfires, and reaching Germany this week.

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After a week of raging wildfires across France, Greece, Portugal, and Spain, Britain braces for a day expected to top 40 degrees Celsius (104 F) in the Midlands and to the East: a record-breaking event after days of similar across Europe. In a country with infrastructure built around cooler weather, no-travel advisories and school cancellations are only part of Britain’s scramble to stay ahead of a heatwave also slated to hit Belgium and Germany between hardest Tuesday and Thursday, and still ravaging south-western European countries. Spain and Portugal report 510 and 659 heat-related deaths respectively from preceding days.

Regional tallies now find 28,000 people having fled fires in France, where firefighting efforts are still escalating to battle the blazes and suppress their smoke. Meanwhile the IPMA, Portugal’s meteorological office, said that 80 municipalities across 10 mainland districts remain at “maximum risk” of further wildfires.

In the UK, the Ministry of Defence confirmed the use of alternative airfields during “this period of extreme temperature”, in which “surface defects” partially melted commercial runways and prompted flight cancellations and redirections. In Cornwall, the Prince of Wales stated that “commitments around net zero have never been more vitally important as we all swelter under today’s alarming record temperatures across Britain and Europe.”

The DWD, Germany’s weather service, anticipates a temperature peak over July 19 and 20, after the country broke solar output levels on Sunday, and is expected to do so again on Tuesday. Belgium’s meteorological institute, RMI, also issued orange extreme heat alerts nationwide for July 19. As London-based climate scientist Dr. Mariam Zachariah told Politico, buildings in European countries are often built to keep heat in, not designed to withstand conditions at or above 25 degrees Celsius.

GLOBAL HUMANIST SHOPTALK M L Clark is a Canadian writer by birth, now based in Medellín, Colombia, who publishes speculative fiction and humanist essays with a focus on imagining a more just world.

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