Suffering the Heat

Out of control wildfire
Out of control wildfire (source)

The northern summer has brought extreme heat and related problems to countries in Asia, North America, and Europe. Several places on each continent have hit record high temperatures above 40°C.

Japan’s rainy season, which is humid but somewhat cooling, ended earlier than usual. The resulting hot weather increased demand for air conditioning and strained the electricity supply. The government asked people to conserve energy.

Much of the United States is also suffering from the heat. In Texas, the mercury went unusually high: 43°C in Abilene and 40°C in San Antonio. As in Japan, there was strong demand for electricity. The heat has also caused and worsened drought in several states.

Europe might have it the worst. More than one thousand heat-related deaths have been recorded in Spain and Portugal where temperatures reached 47°C, a record for July. The heat has also led to dryness and fires in several European countries. A forest fire killed a firefighter and a shepherd in northwestern Spain, and authorities said at least twenty fires are burning out of control.

Scientists say that the current weather conditions are worse and more likely to happen because of human activity.


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Worksheet with activities


Hear the article spoken:

Useful Language

  • Suffer (v) - to endure something uncomfortable or painful
  • Continent (n) - one of seven large divisions of land on the globe
  • Humid (adj) - when the air feels warm and wet
  • Demand (n) - the amount of an item or service that is wanted
  • Strain (v) - to use beyond normal limits
  • Conserve (v) - to save
  • Mercury (n) - the column of mercury (a liquid metal) in a thermometer
  • Worsen (v) - to make worse
  • Drought (n) - a long period of no rain
  • Shepherd (n) - a person whose job is to look after sheep


Discuss the following questions with your partner(s).

  1. Which is worse? Really hot weather or really cold weather? Why?
  2. Do you live in the Northern Hemisphere or the Southern Hemisphere? Have you ever been to the other hemisphere? Where did you go?
  3. Does your region have enough water or too much water? Does it experience drought? Does it experience a rainy season?
  4. How hot does your town or city get in summer? Are the peak temperatures hotter than they used to be?
  5. Is air conditioning standard in homes in your country? How common is it?
  6. Does your country have problems with outdoor fires that get out of control? What causes such fires?
  7. How is the electricity in your region produced?
  8. What can we do to conserve electricity?
  9. What human activities could be making extreme heat more common?
  10. Are you worried about climate change? How might Earth's climate be different in the future?