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This Month in Climate

Nicola Biggerstaff

As the climate crisis continues to cause global disruption, we thought we’d bring you a roundup of just some environmental news that hit the headlines this summer, highlighting just how much of our planet is feeling the pressure, and what this means for our future prospects in an independent Scotland.

In the Americas

In Hawaii, the island of Maui continues to reel from the aftermath of last week’s shocking wildfires and firestorms, which took the lives of over one hundred people so far, with over eight hundred others still missing. Latest developments have pointed to a non-native, invasive grass species cultivated to feed cattle on the island was a contributory factor to the brutality of the fires, despite warnings from a government commission regarding safety as far back as July 2021. Tourists who remained on the safer resorts on the island have been criticised for continuing their vacations, taking vital and necessary accommodation from locals whose homes have been destroyed.

In California, clean-up efforts have begun after Tropical Storm Hilary, the first named storm to hit the West Coat of the United States in over 80 years, made landfall on Sunday evening. Winds of up to 80 miles per hour battered many heavily populated areas of the state’s southern coast, including Los Angeles, Long Beach and as far inland as Las Vegas.

Wildfire season in Canada continues to cause nationwide disruption. In British Columbia on the east coast, the armed forces are being deployed to help tackle the blazes. Meanwhile, in the city of Yellowknife, the capital of the Northwest territories, just under 90% of the city’s 20,000 strong population have been evacuated, with the remaining 2,600 including emergency workers staying behind to help tackle the blazes. In total, it is estimated an area the size of New York state has been scorched across the country since the start of the season.

These are just the latest adverse weather and climate events to plague the North Americas. Others include devastating floods in Vermont, where the state endured two months’ worth of rain in as many days, seawater in Florida heating to over 32 degrees Celsius (90 degrees Fahrenheit), and heat-related health conditions requiring hospital treatment bringing emergency rooms in Phoenix, Arizona up to capacities not seen since the pandemic.

In Europe

The bodies of eighteen people have been found in northern Greece following more devastating wildfires. The deceased were believed to be migrants travelling to Greece from Syria via the nearby Turkish border. This comes as the country has been battling wildfires on multiple fronts in recent weeks, with fires in the popular holiday destinations of Corfu, Rhodes and Evia forcing the evacuation of many tourists during the peak summer season.

In Asia

South Korea’s adverse weather, extreme heat followed by a typhoon, forced the evacuation of the Boy Scout’s World Jamboree earlier this month. Over 400 young people required hospital treatment for heat-related illness before the 40,000 attendees, including around 4,500 Brits, were evacuated to nearby hotels in the country’s southern Baun region. Across the rest of the country, the heatwave claimed the lives of 23 people.

Impacted by the same seasonal monsoon weather, exacerbated by climate change, China’s eastern provinces have experienced devastating typhoons and flooding which has so far claimed the lives of an estimated 62 people. The capital city of Beijing experienced its worst rainfall in 140 years during the deluge, and reports have since emerged of families being physically ripped apart by the storms.

Finally, in Japan, at time of writing, treated wastewater from the Fukushima Daichi nuclear plant is due to be released into the ocean this week, prompting backlash from locals with concerns regarding local ecology, wildlife, and food standards. The plan, backed by the UN’s nuclear watchdog, will see over one million tonnes of water treated for radioactivity released slowly into the Pacific over a period of thirty years. Supporters claim that critics raising legitimate concerns are simply scaremongering, as officials claim the levels of radiation left in the water after treatment is negligible and only harmful in large quantities.

This should not be accepted as any sort of ‘new normal’, as has been so egregiously suggested by commentators and scientists alike. We should not be settling for this. The impact of capitalism, of the fossil fuel industry, on our planet is leading us down the path to disaster, and they’re not even doing this blindly.

You may be sitting wondering, ‘but what does this have to do with me’? Yes, the majority of people, if not everyone, reading this won’t be in a position personally to change the world. But, we can make our voices heard.

Right now, we have politicians in our political sphere advocating for the use of Scotland’s oil reserves as a way to finance the path to and beyond independence, a temporary measure for short-term benefits. All the countries listed above, who are suffering currently from the fallout of capitalist greed, will not forgive us any temporary transgressions that have permanent environmental and ecological consequences. Right now, we are jeopardising future diplomatic relations by not recognising the crisis playing out in front of us.

In ignoring the needs of the planet to put independence above all else, we are shortening the lifespan of any future independent Scotland dramatically. There will be no independent Scotland on a planet that is on fire.

1 thought on “This Month in Climate”

  1. So, being a part of England would enable Scotland to make rational choices on how to tackle problems that might affect Scotland directly, the collapse of the Gulf Stream for instance? How do we do that when the English state will sell North sea oil until Sunak and the rest become black in the face billionaires? I have a good idea, lets cancel Independence and let The English state do what they like. That’ll really show the world we mean business. There may be people advocating selling off the oil to bolster a renewed Scottish state, but there is a chance we can create policy against that in an Independent Scotland and do whats right. There is a chance we can do many things in an Independent Scotland. There is zero chance we can do anything about anything staying part of the English state. The rest of the world will see us sitting around with our union jack boxers on thinking the English state will suddenly stop being rabid capitalists and ripping up their stocks and shares in Exxon. Good luck with that.

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