In the past few days, many parts of the western part of North America have been “baked” by the intense heat. As many as hundreds of people in the United States and Canada have unfortunately died in the heat wave, and there is still room for death statistics to continue to rise. . Meteorologists warned that this extreme climate situation fully shows that the impact of climate change on human living environment has reached a level of “survival or death”.
“A real public health crisis”
Global News Canada reported on July 1 that parts of British Columbia, Canada, have recently become extremely hot. The town of Litton, located in the central part of the province, broke high temperature records three times in the past week. On Tuesday, the temperature reached a staggering 49.6°C.
The Chief Forensic Officer of British Columbia, La Ponte, confirmed on June 30 that there were 486 deaths in the province within 5 days from June 25 to 30, and the number of sudden deaths was 195% higher than normal. Among them, Vancouver alone occurred. In 98 cases, two-thirds of the dead were elderly people over 70 years old. La Ponte said: “It is too early to say exactly how many deaths are related to the high temperature, but the significant increase in reported deaths is believed to be caused by extreme weather, which continues to affect many parts of the province. La Ponte said that as the high temperature weather continues, the number of deaths will further increase.
“USA Today” reported that a similar tragedy was also unfolding in the western United States: From June 25th to 30th, at least 63 people in Oregon died suddenly due to the intense heat-the highest temperature in the state reached 47°C on June 28th. Among them, at least 45 deaths occurred in Mltnom County, the state. The dead ranged from 44 to 97 years old, and most of them had underlying diseases. The county’s health official Vines said that the local area is experiencing a “real public health crisis.” He believes that this situation may continue to occur.
According to the “Seattle Times” report, the temperature in Seattle, Washington, where the weather has always been mild, broke the 40°C mark on Monday, and at least 13 deaths occurred in King County, where the city belongs. Not only that, many hospitals in Washington State have recently received a large number of heatstroke patients, and medical resources are highly strained. Sometimes even basic treatment equipment such as ventilators are not enough. According to doctors, this scene is like “early periods of the new crown epidemic.”
“I haven’t lived in this situation for 70 years”
The extreme weather in North America this year and the number of deaths shocked the officials of the United States and Canada. The Oregon Chief Forensic Office issued a statement saying that in the three years from 2017 to 2019, the total number of deaths due to heat stroke in the state was only 12. Farnworth, the Minister of Public Safety of British Columbia, chanted “unseen before.” He said that the province had only three deaths due to heat in the past five years.
According to media reports in the United States and Canada, the victims of this round of extreme weather are mostly elderly people living alone and lack of home appliances such as air conditioners. Bodily, a public information officer for the South Central Health District in Twin Falls, Idaho, said that although it is difficult for everyone to buy air conditioners at this juncture, the resources of the social circle for the elderly are more limited and it is difficult to get help.
However, the elderly are more vulnerable in the face of high temperatures. According to relevant information from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people over 65 are more likely to have health problems caused by high temperatures because they have difficulty adapting to sudden changes in temperature and are more likely to suffer from chronic diseases. According to the Seattle Times, few people die directly from heatstroke, and many people die from heart disease, respiratory disease or kidney disease. High temperature makes these underlying diseases worse, leading to death. Worryingly, Bodili said that when high-temperature-related health symptoms occur, people cannot determine the cause of the condition themselves, so it is difficult to ask others for help. Municipal authorities in the United States and Canada urge people to stay in the shade as much as possible and take care of family members or neighbors who have difficulty living during the heat.
The high temperature traps many elderly people at home. Hadsworth, a resident of Castlegar, British Columbia, has not dared to go out for 4 days. “We covered all the windows, let the fans spray water mist around the day and night, soak our feet in cold water, and drink a lot of it. Water.” Hodsworth exclaimed, “I haven’t experienced this situation in 70 years.”
“The whole town is on fire”
Meteorological expert Herrera said that the recent high temperatures in Canada have exceeded the highest temperatures in Europe and South America, and there are now only 26 countries in the world that can be hotter than the former. Take Litton as an example. The average highest temperature in the area in previous years was only 25°C, but the recent temperature has almost doubled the normal value. Litton has become hot enough to catch fire after “heating for several days.”
Global News Canada reported on July 1 that the Lytton wildfire was spreading rapidly. Not long after the town’s mayor Bodman ordered the evacuation of residents at 6 pm on June 30, at least 10 houses were burnt down and several injured residents. Rescued by ambulance. Bodman said: “The whole town was on fire, and the fire spread from the first point of fire to all places in only 15 minutes.”
“The fire was like throwing a bomb.” Resident Markff said that he had only 10 minutes to run out of the town and “had no idea where he was going” in the thick smoke. The town councillor Leach said that the wildfire started from the south and had not received any warning before, “We really don’t know what’s left (it burned).” In addition to Lytton, the British Columbia Fire Department said that the province is responding to 4 wildfires at the same time, with a total of 16 fire points. Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau and U.S. President Biden both issued warnings about the increasing threat of wildfires in the heat wave.
Abby, a professor at the Center for Health and Global Environment at the University of Washington, said that climate change is making the summer hotter and the summer weather more durable. The current situation is beyond the normal range. Some experts pessimistically predict that the process of global warming will continue to accelerate, and that today’s extreme weather may only be normal in the future.