(一)There've been floods, gales and heat waves across Europe -- and some lay the blame for the unpredictable weather on climate change.
Spain is undergoing its worst drought for sixty years with many areas in the south of the country not seeing a drop of rain for months. Some reservoirs are nearly empty while the volume of water in some rivers is down to a third of its normal level.
Guadalajara, in the centre of the country, used to be a prosperous tourist area. Its old Moorish name, ironically, means "water running through rocks." But when Emma Jane Kirby visited the small town of Buendia, she found an ecological disaster area in the making.
There's a strange smell around the lake at Buendia, the sort of smell that greets you when you first open the fridge after a week or two away from home -- a putrid stench of salad leaves that've begun to turn to compost in their cellophane bag. I'm reluctant to mention this to my companion, Marco Obispo because this after all is the place where he has spent every one of his summer holidays and just a few hours ago we were pouring over the family photograph books while he reminisced wistfully about his idyllic childhood.
The problem is I don't recognize this place as being the same one he showed me in the pictures. Those images boasted bronzed children racing joyfully down a bank of emerald green grass towards a vast expanse of water so blue that the cornflower sky above looked dazzled. But this landscape is bleached and barren, the banks crusted white, the ponds patchy and the colour of thin ink. Beneath my feet crunch a graveyard of dead algae, as fragile and lifeless as newly shed snakeskin and not a single child's shout breaks the hot and stifling air.
"That smell," says Marco suddenly "Is the smell of life drying up and rotting away." He pushes his big arms in front of him and begins to mime the breaststroke. "My dad taught me to swim just about where you're standing now -- I remember being scared of the deep water then -- now it's only about knee deep in the centre of the lake."