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Roads Are Literally Melting in Europe During Unprecedented Heat Wave

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My personal experience of this week’s “heat apocalypse” in Europe involved discovering large globs of hot, sticky tar stuck to my leg after I trod in melted asphalt on a mountain road in France on Sunday afternoon: The road that I was walking on had literally begun to melt.

I was standing on the melted road because the heat was so extreme that my car’s engine had overheated, and my kids and I ended up stranded on top of a steep mountain pass in the Pyrenees until a tow truck finally came to tow us down the mountain to a nearby town. Around the continent, roadside assistance agencies predicted spikes in the number of car breakdowns as the thermometer readings headed north.

Meanwhile, others across Europe were facing much more frightening emergencies as fires engulfed swathes of forest in Spain, Portugal, Greece, Hungary and France, and as the extreme heat triggered housefires and wildfires in and around London. Europe is finally waking to the ghastly realities of the climate crisis and the rampant fires that come with it.

After days of record-breaking temperatures, calamitous forest fires and mounting numbers of deaths associated with the heat, French President Emmanuel Macron called this week for the creation of a European-wide fire-fighting air fleet.

Touring the Gironde, a picturesque region in southwestern France hammered by the fires, Macron pledged a “major national project” of reconstruction and called for new rules and prevention plans designed to mitigate the worst impacts of climate change.

Europe’s leaders have realized that the continent has got to play catch-up to shore up its infrastructure, and to protect its fire-vulnerable lands from wildfires.

European countries currently spend only 0.4 percent of their budgets on firefighting services. The German federal government has repeatedly refused to invest in fire-fighting aircraft, apparently believing the country is unlikely to face the sorts of megafires that routinely consume vast tracts of land in the U.S. and Australia.

France does have one of Europe’s best-equipped firefighting fleets, but it tops out at 22 planes. In addition to the........

© Truthout

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