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Hurricane Fiona is only the worst yet

Fiona is only the worst yet
Bradley Hughes

September 24, 2022

Homes and vehicles crushed by falling trees, roofs blown off houses, houses and other buildings washed out to sea, 3/4 of Nova Scotia and 95% of PEI are without electricity, this is what the early stages of climate change looks like. Winds reached speeds of 160 km/hr, and more than 100 mm of rain has fallen in parts of PEI and Newfoundland. In Port Aux Basque an entire two story apartment building was swept away. The remnants of Hurricane Fiona have created the worst climate catastrophe yet across Nova Scotia, PEI, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador and parts of Quebec. The emergency is still unfolding as the storm continues across Newfoundland and more devastating rain is still expected in many regions.

Although emergency centres have been opened across the Atlantic provinces, many are without power. Fallen trees, roof debris including roofing nails, and downed electricity lines have made the roads too dangerous to travel on. People have been warned to stay home and not try to get to the emergency shelters.

The full extent of the devastation will not be known for days until roads become passable enough to determine where bridges, roads and homes have been blown down or washed away.

The worst is yet to come

Each year we see a new worst for climate disasters. Fiona is the worst storm to reach Canada. The heat dome that killed over 600 in BC was the worst heat wave anywhere north of Oregon, and all of Europe and South America. The flooding that followed a few months later closed all highways into the Vancouver region and was the worst flooding we have ever seen in BC.

Numerous scientific reports have shown that the extreme weather we are seeing now is mild compared to what is to come. Even if all the nations honour their pledges to the UN to reduce emissions, which none of them have ever done in the 30 years of regular international climate meetings, we are still on track to see average temperatures rise by at least 2.4oC. The disasters we are living through now are just the beginning of the consequences of the current rise of 1oC. What the world we be like as it continues to warm is unimaginable.

In 2019 the remnants of hurricane Dorian passed through Atlantic Canada with similar high winds and rainfall. Luckily the devastation was much less than it has been this time. The response to that hurricane, the massive wild fires, floods and BC’s heat dome of 2021 has been to maintain Canada’s production of oil and gas, the key green house gas emitters. In fact, production of both has increased slightly since 2019.

None of the political parties in Canada have any plan to reduce oil and gas production and consumption. That is because they all respect and uphold a system that protects the 1% and their profit above the needs of the rest of us. Most of us have no real options on the consumption side. Public transit, where it exists, is mostly slow and very unpleasant compared to driving, and how many have an extra $45,000 lying around to but the “cheapest” electric car in Canada? Nor do we have the cost of replacing gas heating and/or appliances. And for renters, it’s obvious what the result of asking your landlord to do that will be. Personal solutions are too expensive for most, and will be too little too late. And the workers in these industries are being forced to choose between feeding their families or walking away from jobs for which no alternatives will be provided.

We need a revolution

We need a climate movement that combines strikes and occupations that will guarantee employment at the same wages of all workers in fossil fuel extraction and other industries. We need a climate movement powerful enough that it can force governments to provide energy retrofits for all homes and buildings, create plentiful, pleasant and rapid public transit. And do all the numerous other things what are wildly expensive and disruptive and which we have no choice about if we want to keep a livable planet.

The minimum changes we need to survive as a species will never be possible as long as we live in a world where the bulk of money and power is in the hands of the few. We need to build a climate movement that recognizes that the enemy is capitalism and the only way forward is by destroying it.



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