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8/14/2009

Climate change fueling forest fires in Europe

MADRID - Greenpeace Thursday warned of an imminent “global emergency” as climate change fuels forest fires that have already destroyed tens of thousands of hectares in southern Europe this year.

“Climate change is driving a new generation of fires with unknown social and economic consequences,” said Miguel Soto, Greenpeace Spain forests campaigner.

Spain, Italy, France, Greece, and Portugal have been among the countries worst hit by wildfires that swept across southern Europe in July amid sizzling temperatures and fierce winds.

Europe as a whole has lost some 200,000 hectares (500,000 acres) of forest to fires so far this summer, far more than the whole of 2008, when 158,621 hectares were destroyed, the E.U. said on Monday.

“With climate models predicting increased heat waves in the coming years, we are fast approaching a global emergency.”
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