Parts of China, Europe, Africa, and the US have seen extremely high temperatures this summer. According to the EU’s Copernicus environmental program, the drought that Europe has been experiencing this summer may be the worst the continent has seen in 500 years. The “soil moisture deficit” affected over half of Europe at the height of the dry period in late August. Meanwhile, China’s largest river, the Yangtze, shrank as a result of the country’s extreme heat and severe lack of rainfall. According to official Chinese data, there was 60% less rain in the river’s drainage basin in August than usual. However, the Chinese authorities issued more than 13,000 heavy rain warnings in July, along with eight drought advisories. More than 28 drought warnings and 10,000 warnings of heavy rain were issued in 2019 during the same time period. Extremes in both wet and dry weather are a result of global climate change.

The UN has issued a warning that 22 million people may be in danger of famine due to drought conditions in eastern Ethiopia, northern Kenya, and Somalia. In general, “relative to 1970-79, the numbers of droughts and floods were nearly threefold and tenfold, respectively, by 2010-19,” based on a 2021 World Bank assessment. Due to years of drier and hotter weather, drought conditions in the western US have become the norm. In a report released in February, the American West has seen the most severe drought conditions in 1,200 years over the past two decades. And this summer’s hot, dry weather contributed to forest fires in a number of states and a decline in water storage levels.