Heatwave turns killer in western Canada - GulfToday

Heatwave turns killer in western Canada


Climatologists have been predicting that the climate change would wreak destruction across the world. Reuters

It would have been hard to imagine that there would be heat wave conditions in the cool climes of north-west Canada, especially in the province of British Columbia, which is famous for its cool summers and warm winters, described in school geography textbooks as the Mediterranean climate. When the little town of Lytton with a population of a thousand touched 49.6 degrees Celsius, achieving the unenviable record of the hottest place on earth, it was inevitable that it has become a weather disaster zone. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was forced to go into a huddle with the incident response group and send security forces to help people and to evacuate Lytton. This cannot be called a freak phenomenon, which could happen anywhere. But to all those all over the world who have been worrying about the climate change crisis and the dire consequences it had for people this is but a sign of impending climate disaster.

Climatologists and other experts have been predicting that the climate change would wreak destruction through rising sea levels, changing monsoon patterns affecting food production. But not much attention has been paid to rising summer temperatures that would affect the lives of the people, and even cause massive deaths. About 700 people have died in British Columbia due to the heat — heat wave deaths are known in tropical countries of Asia and Africa but never in countries of northern latitudes — and it is an alarm signal that extreme fluctuations in weather cannot be ignored any more.

It is the extreme heat that has partially triggered the forest fires which threatens the lives of the people living towns and villages in the region, and which would require governments to rush emergency relief. The heat wave conditions are not confined to western Canada, but they are spread across north-western United States, including the state of Oregon. A similar heat wave crisis accompanied by forest fires occurred in Australia in the Southern Hemisphere summer of 2020, where temperatures soared 18 degrees Celsius above normal.

It is indeed tempting and easy to blame the heat wave in the western parts of Canada and the United States on the climate change crisis, the unchecked industrial pollution of the last two centuries, and the destruction of eco-systems on land and sea. But it would not be sufficient to rest on the general argument. There is need for a more precise study of the phenomenon, and to establish the atmospheric conditions in these places, and what the exact reasons behind the heat explosion. It is only this kind of close study that will help the patterns of climate change, and which would enable people and governments to take the necessary precautions.

This would of course require a response at the global level of reducing the rise in temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. It is not going to be an easy target to achieve because most countries, especially the developed and the rich, are not willing to make the necessary changes in their economies. It is becoming clearer by the year that it is not possible to ignore the mounting evidence of the impending climate change crisis. If the governments are turning out to be tardy in taking the necessary action, then there is a compelling need for people to force the governments to act.

It is here perhaps we need more activists like the Swede, Greta Thunberg. The extreme weather events that are occurring in western Canada, north-western United States and in Australia are not isolated phenomenon. They point to warning signals that things are going to worsen on the climate front with disastrous consequences for the human race.

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