Last year was the third hottest year throughout the world since temperatures were first measured 250 years ago. According to the World Meteorological Organisation, the average temperature during 2003 was 0.45 degrees above the figures recorded during the period from 1961 to 1990. The organisation claims that the high temperatures were responsible for droughts, floods and hurricanes. The thermometer rose the most in the northern hemisphere, particularly in Europe. “In France, Italy, Spain and Great Britain, we can speak of an exceptional phenomenon,” said Michel Jarraud, the organisation’s assistant secretary general. In Portugal, the summer of 2003 broke all records, with temperatures regularly topping 40 degrees over two consecutive weeks. The heat was also responsible for the forest fires that consumed 420 thousand hectares of forestry and the high number of deaths, which amounted to 1,300 – more than would be expected during the summer. However, there were also some exceptionally cold temperatures last year in certain countries. In Russia, temperatures of minus 45 degrees were recorded last January and, in Peru, the temperature dropped to minus 20 degrees last July, provoking 200 deaths.