Sometimes Mother Nature gives climate change activists a boost. She tried in the summer of 1988. She tried again in August 2005, when Hurricane Katrina bulls-eyed New Orleans. She tried again in the long hot summer of 2019.
The Indian heatwave saw thermometers bump up to 48 degrees on four occasions during a two week period. The power system buckled, and only those who could afford generators and ever-more expensive fuel could afford air-conditioning. Pictures of overflowing mortuaries – stuffed with the old, the young, the poor – and mass graves in major cities around the sub-continent were beamed around the world. Social media hashtags proliferated, and protest events about Western indifference and the slowness of relief efforts were held in cities with significant Indian populations around the globe.
Just as that was becoming old news, a pall of smog hung over China’s capital (that’s what you get when you melt the Arctic). Millions of middle-class Chinese people, fearful for the health of their child (or more rarely children), were not fooled by official declarations that – after four days of warnings to stay indoors – that it had suddenly become safe to go outside. The twitter feed of the monitoring equipment on the roof of the US Embassy in Beijing was endlessly reshared and reposted. The 50 cent army failed to distract people, and the real army was on standby, and but nobody quite knew if it would, or could be called upon to repeat its show of force of 1989.
Meanwhile in Russia, in an eerie repeat of 2010 , fires surrounded Moscow, and wheat exports were again banned. Globally, food prices surged, with devastating impacts on the poorest.
Closer to home, a freak tidal surge hit Norfolk, leaving 8 dead and thousands homeless.
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Trigger warning. Someone beloved dies…