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Climate chaos sees heatwave and flood

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As people face extreme weather across Canada and the US, Sophie Squire explores the developing nature of the climate crisis
Issue 2763
A huge amount of smoke from the Bootleg Fire in Oregon can be seen for miles.
A huge amount of smoke from the Bootleg Fire in Oregon can be seen for miles.

Evidence of the growing climate crisis was rammed home in the United States this week. Wildfires, heatwaves and floods hit different parts of the country.

Devastating droughts have hit the west of the US, ­affecting 93 percent of the region. Some 59 percent of the area is experiencing “extreme drought”. These droughts are ­threatening food production and have the ability to spark fires.

A massive wildfire raged this week in the north west state of Oregon.

Called the Bootleg Fire, it has burnt more than 143,000 acres of land.

Another wildfire named The Beckwourth Complex began in the state of California. It has grown to be over 130 miles wide. Firefighters claim the air is so hot and dry, the water dropped from firefighting planes is evaporating before it can hit the ground.

The wildfires have forced thousands of people to evacuate.

Residents have been urged to try and conserve energy as power lines were affected by the blaze.

The fires have been fuelled by soaring temperatures. Temperatures rose to 54.4 degrees celsius in California’s Death Valley.

Some attribute heatwaves that began last month in Canada and the Pacific ­Northwest to a one-off extreme weather event.

But a new study has found that scorching temperatures would not have been possible without climate change. A team of 27 climate scientists found climate change made such heatwaves 150 times more likely to occur.

The weather event was described by some as being a once in a millennium event.

School climate strikes called as heatwave hits
School climate strikes called as heatwave hits
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The group of scientists from World Weather Attribution suggested this once in a millennium event could occur every five to ten years if the world warms by another 1.4 degrees celsius. Co-author of the study Gabriel Vecchi said temperatures “would go from essentially virtually impossible to relatively commonplace.”

The heatwave caused the deaths of hundreds of people. In the state of Oregon. On Wednesday of last week, 116 people were reported to have died as a result.

And the temperatures are also causing one of the ­biggest glacier melts the state of Washington has experienced in 100 years.

This could lead to floods and more risk of wildfires, experts say.

On the east side of the country a tropical storm last week brought misery to hundreds of thousands.

Storm Elsa swept across the US, beginning its devastation in Florida, moving across to Georgia and then to New York.

At least one person has been killed as a result.

The storm caused flash flooding to begin last Thursday in New York City.

Videos of a submerged subway in New York went viral over the weekend.

Commuters struggled to get through the dirty water, covering their feet with bags to keep them dry.

Many residents are angry at the insufficient infrastructure in place to deal with the effects of the climate crisis.

City council member, Mark Levine tweeted, “When a subway system floods because of heavy rain, it’s not a freak accident.

“It’s the predictable result of neglect of infrastructure. Long past time this is fixed.

“Climate change is here,” he added.

The US is in the grips of the climate crisis right now, and if immediate steps are not taken to mediate against its causes and effects, more people will suffer.

Extreme weather events such as these in the US should serve as a warning and a call to action to build mobilisations at COP26 in Glasgow in November, and for climate strikes on 24 September.

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