Saturday, July 16, 2005

Another Hot Summer in France

The French appear to be suffering from another hot summer. They are seeing highs in the high 90's, possibly over 100F. Heat from the Sahara, 10 to 20 degrees F above normal, has moved into France, most concentrated in the Rhone Valley. The government, at least, seems to be taking this one a little more seriously (Fr.) than in the summer of 2003. The Ministry of Health has allocated 26 million Euros to retirement homes for this heat wave. Ninety percent of French retirement homes now have an air-conditioned section as opposed to 58% in 2003.

In addition to hyperthermia among the very young and elderly, the thing that is worrying them most is the related increase in ozone and volatile organics, which they anticipate will kill up to 30,000 people if nothing is done. These deaths will result from increased severity of such chronic health problems as asthma. They will implement emergency measures in some places, such as to impose reduced speed limits and to redirect traffic around affected areas.

The French have two terms for what we call a "heat wave". The more general term is "vague de chaleur", or "wave of warmth". A more severe version is called a "canicule", for which we have no word. I'm not sure when the word first appeared.

The French tend to rely on their government to address this kind of problem more so than we do. I am worried that they may not have done enough. They seem to be blaming it on the Americans, instead.

7/16/2005 10:22 PM

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