Yes, Rome is burning, burning hot, and no, Emperor Nero cannot be found playing his fiddle,it’s probably even too hot for him. Rome, with many other great cities around Europe, are experiencing a devastating heat wave that has earned the unofficial name of “Lucifer,” according to several news reports last weekend. And in an effort to quell Lucifer’s stress on the people of Rome the Vatican has turned off its fountains in an effort to preserve water and show solidarity with the city, which may be forced to ration water to about 1 million of the city’s residents.
According to Agence France-Presse, local conditions in Italy’s Campania region caused temperatures to feel much higher, around 55 Celsius (131 Fahrenheit!).
Surging electrical demand in Poland caused the government to warn of “possible infrastructure failures” and disperse staff early. Train tracks in southern Serbia warped, the Romanian government urged Bucharest residents to stay indoors and an Italian drought which has already cost over $1 billion dragged on. Per Reuters, the Italian grape harvest started weeks early, with Slow Food movement leader Carlo Petrini telling La Stampa he had never heard of it ever starting before August 15.
Reuters also reported 300 firefighters and troops “ struggled to contain as many as 75 forest fires,” with wildfires raging in Serbia, Bosnia, Macedonia and Croatia.
While the Times reported two deaths, AFP reported as many as five, with hospital admissions in Italy running 15-20% “above seasonal norms.”
So is this Climate Change, or just an anomaly? In a study in The Lancet Planetary Health journal, the scientists said their findings showed climate change placing a rapidly increasing burden on society, with two in three people in Europe likely to be affected if greenhouse gas emissions and extreme weather events are not controlled.
“Climate change is one of the biggest global threats to human health of the 21st century, and its peril to society will be increasingly connected to weather-driven hazards,” said Giovanni Forzieri of the European Commission Joint Research Centre in Italy, who co-led the study.
He said that “unless global warming is curbed as a matter of urgency,” some 350 million Europeans could be exposed to harmful climate extremes on an annual basis by the end of the century.
This current heatwave is no longer a warning, it’s here, and with the U.S. officially telling the United Nations that it intends to pull out of the 2015 Paris climate pact, it seems to us that Emperor Nero and Lucifer are now performing together on the global stage in their non-exclusive, “Concerto di Morte.”