While Canada’s forests are burning, sending toxic fumes to the many US states, other parts of the world also suffer environmental disasters caused by climate change. No one is shielded from climate impacts from Canada, Bangladesh, Russia, and Africa.
GHG emissions from the burning of fossil fuels are causing temperatures to rise. In Canada, prolonged dry conditions and heat have intensified its wildfires.
Early on to their forest season from May through October, this season is on track to become its worst forest fire season on record, according to the US National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service.
Wildfires consume an average of 2.5 million hectares a year. This year’s fire, which started in May, has already burned about 4.3 million hectares, roughly 15 times the annual average in the past decade. The country will also experience dry conditions, which will persist for months.
Meanwhile, flooding in early June 2023 killed 42 people in Haiti and displaced over 13 thousand Haitians. CNN reports that the intense rainfall caused several rivers throughout Haiti to overflow, which sparked flash floods, flooding, rockslides, and landslides. In addition, natural disasters, poor infrastructure, criminal violence, and political turmoil also impacted the country in recent years.
Around the same time Haiti was wreaked with floods, Bangladesh struggled through its lengthiest heatwave in 50 years. Dhaka’s temperature reached 40°C, with the poor bearing the brunt of the punishing heat. Their government closed tens of thousands of primary schools while cutting electricity production as demand for airconditioners surged.
In Cape Town, Africa, residents need help implementing new potable water measures such as recycling wastewater, desalination, and water conservation to avoid total depletion of its water supplies.
According to Africa News, the city has already reduced its consumption by 55% without water cuts while investing heavily in the sector to continue supplying the water demands of its residents. A study attributes Africa’s water scarcity to climate change.
While these events – forest fires in Canada, heavy rainfall in Haiti that resulted in floodings, Bangladesh heatwaves, and Africa’s droughts can be considered natural weather occurrences, climate change is increasing the frequency and making them more extreme, according to scientist intensity of these events.
A new study published on 6 June in the journal Nature Communications found Arctic summer sea ice could completely disappear in the months of September as early as the 2030s. Sea ice loss will happen even if the world drastically reduces its GHG emissions today. Study authors believe that high temperatures could melt almost all the sea ice in the Arctic by the 2050s.
Heatwaves and climate change
Although heatwaves are a natural occurrence of the world’s weather systems, climate change is making heatwaves more extreme, and countries across the globe are experiencing record-breaking heatwaves year after year.
For instance, heat waves are happening more frequently in major US cities, according to the EPA, from an average of two heatwave events per year during the 1960s to six per year from the 2010s to the 2020s. Their duration is also increasing, about a day longer than the average heat waves in the 1960s.
In the US, heat waves kill more people than other weather events like hurricanes, floods, or tornadoes.
The video below from The Economist explains what makes heatwaves so deadly, the role of climate change in making them more fatal, and solutions to reduce the deaths they cause.
Osaka, S., Miller, M., & Rios, B. (2023 June 10). The fire equivalent of an ice age’: Humanity enters a new era of fire. The Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2023/06/10/canadian-wildfire-smoke-pyrocene/
Bangladesh shuts schools, cuts power in longest heatwave in decades. (2023, June 7). France24. Retrieved from https://www.france24.com/en/live-news/20230607-bangladesh-shuts-schools-cuts-power-in-longest-heatwave-in-decades-1
Dunne, D. (2023, April 27). Deadly drought in Horn of Africa ‘would not have happened’ without climate change. CarbonBrief. Retrieved from https://www.carbonbrief.org/deadly-drought-in-horn-of-africa-would-not-have-happened-without-climate-change
South Africa: Cape Town innovates to overcome water shortage. (2023, June 7). Africa News. Retrieved from https://www.africanews.com/2023/06/07/south-africa-cape-town-innovates-to-overcome-water-shortages/
Yang, M. (2023, June 11). Poor air quality returns to US north-east from Canada wildfires. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/jun/11/poor-air-quality-returns-to-us-north-east-canada-wildfires
Kim, YH., Min, SK., Gillett, N.P. et al. Observationally-constrained projections of an ice-free Arctic even under a low emission scenario. Nat Commun 14, 3139 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-023-38511-8
Climate Change Indicators: Heat Waves. (2022, August 1). Climate Change Indicators: Heat Waves. EPA. Retrieved from https://www.epa.gov/climate-indicators/climate-change-indicators-heat-waves
Why heatwaves are so deadly. (2023 May 25). The Economist. Retrieved from https://www.economist.com/films/2023/05/25/why-heatwaves-are-so-deadly