Monday, April 15, 2024

Expert weighs in on link between historic heat wave in BC and climate change


The dangerous heat wave that swept through BC which continues through Western Canada is “virtually impossible” without the influence of human-caused climate change, according to a recent report.

According to a new analysis by an international team of leading climate scientists, climate change, caused by greenhouse emissions, made the heatwave that Canada is experiencing about 150 times more likely to happen.

The study was conducted by 27 researchers around the world as part of the World Weather Attribution group.

Co-author and climatologist Faron Anslow of the Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium at the University of Victoria described the results as a shocking, wake-up call.

“Every heatwave occurring today is made more likely and more intense by climate change,” said Anslow.

“In the future we may see events like this once every five to 10 years. The results are preliminary and will change slightly, but the evidence is overwhelming that climate change is in play and has given us a stark reminder of what those impacts truly are.”

The study claims that these heat waves are bound to come back even hotter and more often; the hottest temperatures over land are increasing faster than the average current temperatures.

See also: Last month marked Victoria’s warmest June since records began

But how likely is it that the heatwave is human-caused?

Anslow said it is indisputable.

“At this point, the evidence is pretty much indisputable especially for temperature changes and extreme temperature events,” said Anslow.

“Scientists don’t like to say anything with absolute certainty, but the vast evidence aligns with climate change as being a result of human activities.”

The data comes off the heels of a large spike in deaths amidst the heat wave and the fire that wiped out much of the town of Lytton.

BC is currently experiencing the dire effects of the heat wave linked to the dire effects humans have had on the environment. Now, conversations over how to prepare for heatwaves, wildfires, and climate change are even more poignant.

“This event really highlights how seriously we need to take heat events. They are one of the biggest and most regular causes of mortality, yet they are fairly forecastable,” said Anslow.

“Our emergency services were overwhelmed, there weren’t enough cooling facilities and hundreds are known to have died of heat related illness. In my opinion, to the extent possible, adaptations to both long-term climate warming and extreme events should be developed, put in place and maintained as insurance that will pay off when future events occur.”

With the planet’s average surface temperature having risen about 1.18 degrees Celsius since the late 19th century and the majority of the warming having occurred in the past 40 years, according to NASA, being prepared for these dangerous heat levels is necessary.

According to the Global Annual to Decadal Climate Update, there is a 90% likelihood that at least one year between 2021-2025 will be the warmest year on record.

But whether governments have updated their plans to tackle this issue is still unclear.

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