The climate crisis is no longer a future concern. In many parts of the world it has already begun.
2021 was the hottest year on record. Millions of people live in extreme temperatures, facing a growing threat of floods or fires. Here, five people explain how extreme temperatures have changed their lives.
“We have many sleepless nights”
Shakeela Bano often hangs out her family’s bedding on the roof of their one-story home in India. Some nights it is too hot to sleep in the house. The roof may be too hot to walk on. “It’s very difficult,” he says. “We have many sleepless nights.”
Shakeela lives with her husband, daughter and three grandchildren in a windowless room in Ahmedabad. They only have a ceiling fan to keep them cool.
Climate change means that many cities in India are reaching 50 ° C. Densely populated and built-up areas are particularly affected by something known as the urban heat island effect. Materials like concrete trap and radiate heat, pushing temperatures higher. And there is no respite at night, when it can actually get warmer.
In homes like Shakeela’s, temperatures now reach 46 ° C. He is dizzy from the heat. Her grandchildren suffer from skin rashes, heat exhaustion and diarrhea.
Traditional methods of staying fresh, like drinking buttermilk and lemon water, no longer work. Instead, they borrowed money to paint the roof of their house white. White surfaces reflect more sunlight, and a coat of white paint on the roof can lower the interior temperature by 3-4 degrees.
For Shakeela, the difference is huge; the room is cooler and the children sleep better. “He wouldn’t have slept all afternoon,” he says, pointing to his sleeping nephew. “Now he can fall asleep peacefully.”
‘Warms Like Fire’
“I come from a warm place,” says Sidi Fadoua. But the heat in northern Mauritania, in West Africa, is now too hot for many people to live and work. The heat here is not normal, he says. “It’s like fire.”
Sidi, 44, lives in a small village on the edge of the Sahara. Work as a salt miner in nearby apartments. The work is tough, and it has gotten tougher as the region heats up due to climate change. “We can’t handle such temperatures,” he says. “We are not machines.”
To avoid temperatures above 45 degrees in the summer, Sidi started working at night.
Job prospects are scarce. Those who once earned their living by raising cattle can no longer do it: there are no plants to graze for sheep and goats.
So, like a growing number of its neighbors, Sidi plans to migrate to the coastal town of Nouadhibou, where the ocean breeze keeps the city cooler. Locals can take a ride there on one of the longest trains in the world, bringing iron ore from nearby mines to the coast.
“People are moving from here,” explains Sidi. “They can’t stand the heat anymore.” The 20 hour journey is dangerous. Locals can sit atop the carriages where they are exposed to heat and sunlight during the day, before temperatures drop to near zero at night.
In Nouadhibou he hopes to find work in the fishing sector. The breeze can bring respite, but as the number of people fleeing the desert heat increases, job opportunities are harder to come by. Sidi remains confident.
“How do you put out a hell?”
Patrick Michell, head of Kanaka Bar First Nation, began noticing disturbing changes in the forest near his reservation in British Columbia, Canada more than three decades ago. There was less water in the rivers and the mushrooms had stopped growing.
This summer his fears came true. A heat wave was sweeping across North America. On June 29, his hometown of Lytton broke all records, hitting 49.6 ° C. The next day, his wife sent him a photo of a thermometer that reads 53 ° C. An hour later, his city was on fire.
Her daughter, Serena, eight months pregnant, rushed to load her babies and pets into the car: “We left with our clothes over our shoulders. The flames were three stories high and right next to us.”
Patrick ran back to see if he could save the house. He had grown up dealing with fires. But like the climate, the fires had also changed. “These aren’t fires anymore, they’re hells,” he says. “How do you put out hell?”
Despite family circumstances, Patrick sees what happened as an opportunity: “We can rebuild Lytton for the environment to come in the next 100 years. It’s daunting, but there’s that optimism in my heart.”
‘When I was a kid, it wasn’t like that’
“When I was a kid, the weather wasn’t like that,” says Joy, who lives in Nigeria’s Niger Delta. The region is one of the most polluted regions on Earth, and warmer days and nights are on the rise.
Joy provides for her family by using the heat from gas torches to dry tapioca and sell it at a local market. “I have short hair,” explains Joy, “because if I grow my hair long, it could burn my head if the glow changes direction or explodes.”
But the rockets are part of the problem. Oil companies use them to burn gas that is released from the ground when they drill for oil. Rockets, which rise to 6 m (20 ft) in height, are a significant source of global CO2 emissions, which contribute to climate change.
Climate change has had a devastating impact here, turning fertile lands into deserts in the north, while flash floods hit the south. People don’t remember such an extreme climate when growing up.
“Most people here aren’t informed enough to explain why the climate is changing rapidly,” says Joy. “But we are suspicious of continuous rockets.” He wants the government to ban gas flaring, even if he relies on it to provide for his family.
Almost none of the oil wealth has been reinvested in Nigeria, where 98 million people live in poverty. This includes Joy and her family. For five days of work they earn £ 4.
He is not optimistic about the future. “I think life [on Earth] now it’s about to end “.
‘This heat is not normal’
Six years ago, Om Naief started planting trees in a patch of desert near a highway. A retired public employee in Kuwait, she was worried about colder summer temperatures and worsening dust storms.
“I talked to some officials. They all said it was impossible to plant something in the sand,” he says. “They said the ground was sandy and the temperature was too high. I wanted to do something that amazed everyone.”
Om lives in the Middle East, which is heating up faster than much of the world. Kuwait is racing towards unbearable temperatures: it regularly gets warmer than 50C. Some forecasts suggest that average temperatures will increase by 4 ° C by 2050. Yet Kuwait’s economy is dominated by fossil fuel exports.
The two patches Om planted are modest but serve a purpose. “Trees repel dust, eliminate pollution, clean the air and lower temperatures,” he says. Hedgehogs and spiny-tailed lizards now visit the site. “There’s cool water and shade. It’s a beautiful thing.”
Some Kuwaitis are now calling for the government to establish a large-scale green belt. Their shared hope is that Kuwait is ready to take a stand against the climate crisis. Om says they must protect the earth and not let it dry out.
“This heat is not normal,” Om concludes. “This is the land of our fathers. We must give it back, because it has given us a lot.”
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Top image from Getty Images. Display of climatic strips courtesy of prof. Ed Hawkins and the University of Reading.
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This Article is Sourced from BBC News. You can check the original article here: Source