Weather extremes and food shortages grip continental Europe - Politics | PoFo

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When German astronaut Alexander Gerst looks down on his homeland, and central Europe, he doesn’t like what he sees.

“A shocking sight,” he tweeted from the International Space Station (ISS) this week. “Everything dried and brown that should be green... I’ve never seen it like this before.”

The pictures he took of the Rhine, Bonn, Cologne and Düsseldorf speak volumes about the extraordinary heatwave and drought that has gripped large swathes of the European continent in effect since May.

Portugal, he said, looked like “a mixture of dust, sand and smoke”, as firefighters battle wildfires in the Algarve amid temperatures of 48 degrees, not far off those of California’s notorious Death Valley.

In France, where temperatures tipped 40 degrees this week, meteorologists are talking about one of the three hottest summers on record. Four nuclear plants have been powered down due to the extreme weather.

Up north in Sweden, the hottest July in 250 years saw the glacier-topped southern peak of Kebnekaise, the country’s highest mountain, lose its crown as Sweden’s highest point. The worst forest fires in living memory there, inside the Arctic Circle and across to the Baltic, have seen the value of forest lost estimated at 700 million kronor (€70 million).

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