What’s it living in a place where it is 50c?

November 4, 2021

Climate change: What's it like living in a place where it's 50C?

 

The climate crisis is no longer a future concern. In many parts of the world, it has already begun.

Millions of people are living with extreme temperatures, facing a growing threat of flooding or wildfires. Here, five people explain how extreme temperatures have changed their lives.

 

Patrick Michell, chief of the Kanaka Bar First Nation, first began noticing worrying changes in the forest near his reserve in British Columbia, Canada, more than three decades ago. There was less water in the rivers, and mushrooms had stopped growing.

This summer his fears came true. A heatwave was sweeping across North America. On June 29, his home town of Lytton smashed records, reaching 49.6C. The next day, his wife sent him a photo of a thermometer reading 53C. An hour later, his town was on fire.

His daughter, Serena, eight months pregnant, scrambled to pack her children and pets into the car: "We left with the clothes on our backs. The flames were three storeys high and right beside us."

Patrick raced back to see if he could save the house. He'd grown up dealing with wildfires. But like the climate, the fires had changed too. "These aren't wildfires anymore, they're infernos," he says. "How do you put an inferno out?"

Despite the family's circumstances, Patrick sees what's happened as an opportunity: "We can rebuild Lytton for the environment that's coming in the next 100 years. It's daunting, but in my heart there's that optimism."