Temperature hiking, breaking all the previous records, and masses dying because of the deadly heatwaves are all the realities of 2021 summer, that scientists predicted are still a few decades away. Despite being ranked amongst the coldest countries, where the temperature falling beyond -20°C is customary, the ravaging heatwaves striking many states in Canada broke the all-time high record to hit +49.6°C.
But what is triggering this extreme climate event? How bad will it get? And is there any way to stop such calamities from happening in the future?
Heatwaves: The Unforeseen Pitfall
Though heatwaves might not seem as pernicious as hurricanes, floods, typhoons, and other climatic calamities, according to the National Weather Service, these extreme climate events have persisted to be the deadliest weather phenomenon in the US and Canada for the last 30 years, on average. The general peak in the temperature a few weeks after the longest day of the years was broken by astonishingly 5-degrees and higher in many parts of the U.S. and Canada.
Without cooing infrastructure in place, the human toll of the disastrous heatwaves hitting Canada and Northwest United States is already huge. More than 80 people have lost their lives in the past few weeks because of the record-breaking temperature, whereas the number of deaths is over a hundred in the worst-hit areas like British Columbia.
British Columbia located in the South-Western region of Canada homes a town named Lytton, which is amongst the worst-hit zones of summer 2021, where the temperature this season went up to +49.6°C. The sudden hike in temperature resulted in melted cables and chipped roads. The heatwave caused a fire in the nearby forest, lighting a wildfire that burned down almost 90% of the entire village.
Mountain of evidence is pointing towards climate change for a majority of such heat-related death. According to Nature Climate Change, a team of 70 researchers studying the case of heat-related catastrophes found that 37% of all the death are direct implications of human-caused climate change.
Why Should Canada’s Heatwave Concern the World?
History’s most destructive heatwaves including 2003 in Europe, 1995 in Chicago, or 2019 in France killed thousands, and thousands suffered from severe long-term health problems after the heat dissipated.
Over the past few years, extreme climate events have become a common occurrence resulting in more intensified heatwaves every year. The heatwaves of 2019, summer caused about 2,500 deaths in Western Europe. A study found that the likeliness of warmer heatwaves has increased five times compared to the pre-industrial era. As a result of the increasing global average temperature, the frequency of such events has increased by 20 times in the oceans.
The planet’s average temperature has already increased by 1.8°F, and heat-related deaths account for 1.5% of all summertime mortality. Going by the statistics, every summer, 100,000 deaths are recorded due to human-triggered climate change.
Ironically, the worst affected regions due to the rise in global temperature will not be the hottest places, but the cooler regions will suffer the deadliest impacts. Warmer regions are usually equipped to tackle the temperature rise, while colder regions have less cooling infrastructure and only fewer households have air conditioners, as seen in various Canadian cities this year. Furthermore, people less acclimated to higher temperatures might not recognize, heat-related health problems.
“Think about who contributed to climate change over the last century, and who is seeing the most consequences today, and you see it is not fair. There is a huge environmental injustice in terms of who is suffering the heat-related mortality caused by anthropogenic climate change.” says environmental health expert Tarik Benmarhnia, University of California, San Diego.
Elongated summer, with extreme heat periods occurring untimely results in more, severe health problems. Scientists predict more wet-bulb temperatures in many parts of the world in the coming future, making summertime life-threatening to human life around the globe.
The Most Effective Way To Halt The Climate Catastrophes
An interesting contrast of how human-made climate change has wrecked the planet’s average temperature is presented by a team of researchers. By using the mathematical formula of today’s world and stimulate an imaginary world without human intrusion with climate, they deduced how many people must have died due to extreme heatwaves in both the world. The difference was staggering.
Even if all the greenhouse gas emissions are stopped today, our earth will keep getting warm beyond the 1.8°F it already has; lining up today’s extreme weather event with a norm. But how bad it gets in the future, will depend on what actions we take henceforth.
We have surpassed the stage, where small steps at the individual level could halt the climate change-related disastrous events, policy changes at the governmental levels are the only way to stop the blue planet from future calamities. Quick action on fossil fuel subsidies, increasing carbon taxes at ground zero, along promoting electric vehicles with higher incentives could make huge changes in today’s catastrophic climate injustice.
Humanity’s hunger for fossil fuels is making the distant climate catastrophe occur today, opening all speculations of extremes to follow. Despite being well past beyond the point of no return, we still have the time to choose between bad and worse.