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Hurricanes, floods, heatwaves: this is what climate change looks like

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Weather in San Francisco tends to be pretty mild all year. Because of the fog that comes from the Pacific Ocean, the average high temperature in the city is only 17ºC. However, in the first weekend of September, a record-breaking heatwavewith temperatures reaching 41ºCmade its way into the Bay Area. In the meantime, Los Angeles was facing the largest wildfire in the city’s history, which forced hundreds to evacuate. Wildfires are common in the region during summer, but climate change can make them burn hotter, longer and impact larger areas.

Across the Atlantic, it was not long before Europe was going through a massive heatwave as well. With temperatures exceeding 40ºC, that caused at least two people to die, the heatwave named Lucifer was the most intense since 2003, and had authorities from 11 different countries issue warnings to their tourists and residents.

Extreme weather events are hitting hard everywhere in the world and it’s a fact that they are being worsened by climate change. The path of destruction Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria left is making news worldwide, and it is proof that climate change often hits people in vulnerable situations the hardest. Low-income families and people of color are less likely to be able to evacuate due to lack of resources, and are prone to live in areas more susceptible to flooding.

In Asia, over 1,200 people were killed by landslides and floods across Bangladesh, India and Nepal. Even though floods are natural during this time of the year in the region, this year’s monsoon season was particularly strong, affecting and displacing tens of millions of people. In countries without resources such as Bangladesh and Nepal, it’s challenging to find safe structures to shelter and support communities.

While hurricane Maria hits the Caribbean, leaving the entire island of Puerto Rico without power and thousands displaced, not only there but in other islands such as Dominica, we cannot turn our backs on the evidence. Millions of people around the world are being affected by extreme weather events, and we need to hold those responsible for worsening the effects of climate change accountable. It’s time for the fossil fuel companies to play a bigger role cleaning up after extreme weather events and to move away from dirty energy for good before it’s too late.

Diego Gonzaga is a content editor for Greenpeace USA.


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