• Outdoors Outdoors

Greece shuts down most popular tourist site after earliest heat wave on record strikes nation: 'With this kind of heat, it would be too risky otherwise'

Workers are starting their day early in the morning to avoid the heat.

Workers are starting their day early in the morning to avoid the heat.

Photo Credit: iStock

Greece endured its earliest heat wave in recorded history earlier this month. The extreme heat forced the closing of schools and popular tourist sites.

What's happening?

Summer heat waves in Greece might be common, but scorching temperatures are now searing the country earlier in the year than normal. Their definition of a heat wave is at least three straight days when temperatures top 38 degrees Celsius (100.4 degrees Fahrenheit).

Greece's first heat wave this summer struck during the second week of June. Meteorologists there say none of the heat waves during the 20th century have hit before June 19, according to the Guardian.

Workers are starting their day early in the morning to avoid the heat. "With this kind of heat, it would be too risky otherwise," said 46-year-old electrician Fotis Pappous, per the Guardian. His employer told him to start at 6 a.m. 

Schools were forced to close to protect students and staff from the heat, the Guardian said. The country's most popular tourist site, the Acropolis, was also closed to the public during the hot spell. Heat in Europe is more than just an inconvenience for tourists — it's also a killer.

Why is an early summer heat wave in Greece important?

According to the 2023 European State of the Climate report, Europe is the fastest-warming continent on Earth, warming almost twice as fast as the global average. Nearly 77% of the worst 30 heat waves to impact Europe have happened since 2000, and five of the worst have hit in the last three years. 

Forecasters expect another scorching summer following last year's deadly hot season. According to the World Meteorological Organization, there was a record number of days with "extreme heat stress" last year across Europe. "Heat-related mortality has increased by around 30 percent in the past 20 years, and heat-related deaths are estimated to have increased in 94 percent of the European regions monitored," according to the WMO.

Heat is the No. 1 weather-related killer. The WMO estimates that between 55,000 and 72,000 people died in heat waves in 2003, 2010, and 2022.

What can be done about extreme heat in Europe?

Our world is warming due to increased heat-trapping gases in our atmosphere. Scientists say that human-induced climate change is making deadly heat waves more likely. A warmer planet means not just more heat waves, but also more extreme weather events.

Innovations in clean energy are helping reduce harmful pollution. Recent breakthroughs in battery technology offer hope that we can cool off our planet by allowing us to capture and store more pollution-free energy from the sun and wind.

A startup announced a breakthrough that could cut the cost of electric vehicle batteries in half, which would encourage more people to take advantage of EVs. Changing how we travel can be an effective way to reduce toxic gases that are overheating the planet.

Join our free newsletter for cool news and cool tips that make it easy to help yourself while helping the planet.

Cool Divider