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Parts of the U.S. and Europe are bracing for some of their hottest temperatures yet

A firefighter aircraft drops water in a wildfire in Portugal on Saturday.
Patricia De Melo Moreira
AFP via Getty Images
A firefighter aircraft drops water in a wildfire in Portugal on Saturday.

Across much of the United States, millions of Americans are getting ready for some of the warmest days they've ever seen.

Parts of the Great Plains are forecast to hit record-breaking temperatures this week, according to meteorologists at AccuWeather. Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas could reach temperatures as high as 110 degrees.

The heat is already affecting the region's crops, livestock and power grids. Parts of Texas and Oklahoma were under excessive heat warnings on Sunday, while Arkansas and Louisiana were under heat advisories.

Residents of Texas, mired in a heat wave for much of the past six weeks, have seen triple-digit heat from north to south and east to west. The city of Austin just experienced the hottest seven-day period in its recorded history. As residents there and across the state turn up their air conditioners, fears about the resilience of the state's power grid are on the rise.

Wildfires across Europe

But it's not just happening here. Climate change is making heatwaves around the world more frequent and intense, scientists have found.

Extreme heat in parts of Europe sent wildfires burning across Spain, France, Portugal and other surrounding countries, causing thousands of people to evacuate.

A pilot died after his plane crashed during a Portuguesefirefighting operation Friday.

Portugal has experienced some of the worst damage. Wildfires have already destroyed roughly 74,000 acres of land so far this year, according to the Portuguese broadcaster RTP.

In France, two huge wildfires in the nation's southwest have spread for nearly a week now and decimated the country's pine forests, according to the Associated Press. The wildfires caused roughly 14,000 people to evacuate the region.

Wildfires are also damaging parts of Spain, prompting the country's National Defense Department to deploy most of its firefighting aircraft to get to the areas with limited access on the ground, The Associated Press also reported.

Blazing temperatures

The heat wave in Portugal caused 659 deaths over the past week, according to Reuters, citing the nation's Health Ministry. Temperatures reached as high as 117 degrees in some parts of the country.

As of Saturday, some 360 people in Spain died from heat-related causes, according to the daily Spanish news outlet La Vanguardia.

Meanwhile, for the first time in history parts of the United Kingdom are under a "Red warning" for extreme heat.

The U.K.'s national weather service, known as the Met Office, said temperatures could hit as high as 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit).

The extreme heat warning will affect parts of England on Monday and Tuesday, according to the Met Office.

Despite the widespread harm people are already feeling from climate change, countries around the world risk stalling in their efforts to cut heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions as they scramble to deal with problems such as high inflation and fossil fuel prices.

The U.S. is the world's second biggest emitter of greenhouse gases. But its ability to reduce its heat-trapping pollution has been limited recently by political conservatives. In late June, the Supreme Court curtailed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's ability to regulate emissions from existing power plants. And last week, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., shot down legislation backed by other Democrats and the Biden White House to pump more money into clean energy.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Shauneen Miranda
Shauneen Miranda is a summer 2022 Digital News intern.