It’s getting hot in here

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A globe on fire is what this person has for a head as they lay on the ground, resigned to their fate.
Unfortunately, avoidance is not a coping skill with any potential for positive outcome in the climate crisis.  librarianlady via Pixabay, manipulated by Lee Lim

Sask. summer temperatures hitting all-time highs, residents note weather shifts

Be it online or offline conversations, climate change, global warming, rising temperature, and so on have been the new buzz-worthy phrases in the recent years (and for good reasons). The world is getting to experience the real time effects of what scientists and researchers studying climate change have been warning about for decades.   

Global temperatures have been on a continual rise which has had an impact on a wide range of factors. Melting of ice caps, rising of global temperatures, rising of ocean levels and ocean temperatures causing the extinction and endangerment of marine ecology at an alarming rate are a few to name. Though it’s not just our animals that are suffering through these changes.  

Countries all over the world are feeling the hottest summer ever according to NASA. Those who can afford measures to combat the ever-rising temperatures suffer physical and financial discomfort, while the picture is rather grim for those who cannot afford such measures and face health risks like heatstroke. 

According to an article published by CNN in February 2023, between May 30 and September 4 of 2022 there were 61,672 people who died in Europe from heat-related illnesses. With almost 18,000 fatalities Italy was the worst-affected nation, followed by Spain with a little over 11,000, and Germany with about 8,000. With the temperatures rising even further, it can be reasonably expected that the figures are only going to climb for 2023.  

Saskatchewan itself has not remained unaffected by these changes. According to a report by Saskatchewan Environmental Society, the effects of climate change have caused major forest and grassland fires, extremely heavy rainfall events with substantial floods, and the migratory spread of insect pests from further south. Their website also highlights that per capita greenhouse gas emissions in Saskatchewan are more than three times the national average. The effects can also be seen in that temperatures in the province’s capital hit a record high this year.  

As per climate.gc.ca’s database, the average minimum temperature for June was recorded to be the highest it has ever been since 1884. Although a few windy days and days with stormy weather and downpours were experienced, most of the days remained hot with temperatures which were unprecedented.   

Summer is usually a festival in itself after the notorious winters that Regina and the rest of Saskatchewan goes through, but the effects of record-high temperatures are not lost upon its residents. Wendy Machmer, a resident who has spent a significant part of her life in Regina and nearby places, spoke to us about the changes in weather and climate over the years and the effect it has had on the people like her who’ve lived through it. “We’ve definitely had some extreme weather with the temperatures and a couple bad storms. We have experienced different amounts of heat, similar in other years but not quite as hot,” said Machmer about this summer’s temperature.  

Having spent quite some time in Regina, she was also able to give us an overview of how things have changed over the years. “It is a bit more volatile than it used to be. I think we’ve had a few more storms and the storms seem to be a bit more intense whether you’re in the city or outside of the city. We’ve had things that we didn’t even hear about a few years ago such as plough winds, and of course tornados are also a reality; they’ve always been around but I think we have them more than we used to have. […] We’ve had extreme temperatures and extreme happenings in the past, but I think that they’re much more frequent and much more intense,” she said.   

It is interesting to note that she mentions the city has experienced extreme weather conditions in the past but their intensity and frequency have increased in the recent years. The Royal Society’s website explains that climate change can have a direct impact on the strength and frequency of floods, droughts, hurricanes, and tornadoes. While hurricanes don’t threaten Saskatchewan quite so much as other coastal Canadian regions, the other three have the potential to cause drastic damage. The changes in frequency and intensity of these events should be traced back to climate crisis and its trends around the world.   

Wendy also mentions that this change and rise in temperature is something she expected, as she’s been following news reports. While not everyone maintains awareness about climate crisis or keeps up with information about it, we’ve all experienced drastic shifts in the weather we expect for summer this year. People know and understand the reality of these shifts and the effects they are going to have in the future if not curbed and slowed down.  

Machmer mentioned that it is important to take individual responsibility and contribute toward sustainable and environmentally friendly ways of living as much as we can. Given the extent and seriousness of the crisis, I would say perhaps a little more than just what is convenient too.  

According to canada.ca’s website, one of the primary causes that drives climate change and global warming is the emission of carbon dioxide due to burning of fossil fuels for human activities. Carbon dioxide is the chief greenhouse gas accelerating the process of global warming. With the carbon emission levels from industries and other sources being at a record high, it is obvious that human-led activities have played the utmost role in accelerating the crisis and accentuating the effects of it.  

The catch here though is that human-led activities can also be regulated by human-led incentives. The crisis is not a just a pop culture storyline you watch on screens or read about in books with fictional plots anymore. It is a reality, it is happening, and it is high time we take responsibility to address it with the urgency it deserves both individually and as a species.  

Awareness won’t be enough anymore. Active action is what is needed before it’s too late and there is not much left to save or restore.  

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