By Aurore Fauret – 350.org Tar Sands Campaign Coordinator
These past few weeks, climate and disaster-filled headlines have been brutal for many of us looking at the news. And that’s not to speak of the world turned upside down for those who are directly experiencing these disasters.
Earlier this summer, a heat wave hit Quebec, in Canada, resulting in over 90 people killed in July by the scorching heat and humidity, despite emergency plans put in place. In my hometown of Montreal, it’s the elderly, homeless, people with health conditions, and those without air conditioning who were hardest hit, although a complete public health investigation is still underway. When I visited my extended family in western Europe a few weeks later, I travelled to another week-long heat wave. There, I found myself at the heart of record-hot temperatures sweeping across the continent — so severe that in my birth country of France, they had to shut down four nuclear reactors because of risk that they couldn’t be cooled down, and it’s not the first time it’s happened. I wish these were “freak events.” As a climate campaigner, I very well know they’re not.
Each year, we see new announcements that we’ve broken some new world temperature record. This summer, there’s been record-breaking and deadly heat in Pakistan, Japan, Algeria, South Korea, Sweden, to name a few. Heat waves are intensified by climate change and a warming planet makes them more than twice as likely to happen. And with them comes worsening inequality and injustice — where those who are most marginalized and least responsible for the crisis bear the burden of climate impacts.
On the other coast of Canada, the fourth worst wildfire season yet in British-Columbia — which has been linked to climate change — is raging. It’s particularly devastating, leading the province to declare a state of emergency for the second year in a row as nearly 600 fires burn, giving rise to “apocalyptic” orange skies in the province and its neighbour, Alberta. Last week B.C. was granted the title for worst air quality in North America as a result of the fires — this is week some parts of the province are now facing the worst air quality in the entire world.
And these are just at home. As we write, fires are still raging in California, drought is destroying crops and cattle stocks in south Australia, and communities are still recovering from unprecedented fires from Greece to the Arctic Circle in Sweden. Meanwhile, after record heat, India’s state of Kerala is seeing its worst floods this century, killing hundreds and displacing over 800,000 people, and events are still unfolding.
In light of these disasters, it is critical to stand with impacted communities and support their efforts for relief and restoration. Here are some options for donating to support community relief efforts:
- Telegraph Creek Fire Relief GoFundMe and Tahltan First Nation Government (British-Columbia, Canada)
- BC Wildfire Relief and Climate Survivors in the Philippines: Smoke Out Trudeau Indiegogo
- Kerala Chief Minister Relief Fund and more options of where to give here.
- We encourage you to donate, share these relief efforts with family members and friends, and also pass the hat if you’re organizing an event for RISE on September 8th.
We know that these disasters have everything to do with climate change, and that climate change is fueled by the unbridled growth of the extraction, transport and consumption of fossil fuels around the world. Closer to home, we know that Alberta’s tar sands sector is the fastest-growing source of greenhouse gas emissions for Canada, and scientists have told us time again that we must leave these resources in the ground if we’re hoping to meet our global obligations to keeping the world’s temperature below a 2°C, let alone 1.5°C, warming limit. We have to transition off fossil fuels in the fastest way imaginable, because the impacts are already here — but it will take political courage, innovative Indigenous-led and worker-led energy solutions, and a growing movement of organized communities demanding change.
Climate-induced events are becoming more frequent and more intense. Some impacts are gradual but nonetheless drastic, like ocean acidification and coral bleaching, and others come in the form of disasters and devastating tragedies. A recent scientific article pointed to the feedback loops bringing the Earth into a “hothouse” state unless we take drastic action to divert from that trajectory. Another one pointed out that what we’re seeing is actually a climate change “hiatus” that’s about to end, making the next decades much worse than expected. With stuff like this, there is cause for despair.
If you’re feeling struck with climate-induced anxiety –I see you– we can try to find an antidote to despair in each other, and in our commitment to acting towards climate justice. That starts with recognizing we each have a personal connection to our changing world. And naming why and how we’re holding on to hope and action as we witness alarming impacts of climate change, and as many around the world live through the worst of consequences. People around the globe are already sharing their stories of why they are moving to action this fall while feeling overwhelmed in the face of urgency, grief and catastrophe. We encourage you to do the same.
Photo by Eva Hambach/Getty Images – Water fountains at Place des Arts in Montreal, July 3, 2018