‘This Is the Climate Emergency’: Dozens of Sudden Deaths Reported as Canada Heat Hits Record 121°F
Dozens of sudden-death calls that Vancouver authorities have received this week are believed to be tied to the dangerous heatwave currently scorching Canada and pushing temperatures to record levels, an event experts say is a direct result of the human-caused climate emergency.
On Tuesday, the temperature hit 49.6°C (121°F) in Lytton, British Columbia, an all-time high and the third consecutive day that Canada heat has crushed records.
“Before this heatwave, the Canadian national heat record stood at 45°C. This record held since July 1937,” meteorologist Scott Duncan noted in a series of tweets. “Along came 27 [June] and smashed this by a whopping +1.6°C. But we were not done here, the heatwave was just getting started. The very next day, temperatures soared to a staggering 47.9°C, destroying the new record. This did not last long though…”
“And here we are,” Duncan added. “Almost 50°C at 50 degrees north. This is desert heat in Canada. We have never seen this level of heat this far north anywhere on Planet Earth until now.”
Pointing to the alarming new figures, Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg said that “heat records are usually broken by tenths of a degree—not 4.6°C.”
“We’re in a climate emergency that has never once been treated as an emergency,” Thunberg added.
As the Washington Post reported, the record 121°F temperature in Lytton “is more extreme than the all-time high in Las Vegas, 117, and higher than most places in the Lower 48 states outside the Desert Southwest.”
“These are temperatures rarely found outside of Death Valley,” meteorologist Eric Holthaus said of Canada’s record heat. “Only a handful of places in the world have ever been this hot.”
The Canada heatwave comes as large swaths of the United States—from the Pacific Northwest to the Northeast—are also experiencing devastating high temperatures. At least five deaths have been linked to the latest U.S. heatwave, which is melting power cables, cracking asphalt roads, and intensifying wildfires. More than 1,000 people in the Pacific Northwest have been hospitalized in recent days due to possible heat-related illness.
“The record-shattering extreme heat we’re experiencing is just the latest example of our climate crisis and how it’s impacting human health now,” Jeff Duchin, an officer for Public Health in Seattle and King County, Washington, said in a statement over the weekend. “Climate change is a health emergency and reducing greenhouse gas emissions is literally a matter of life and death.”
On Tuesday, police in the Vancouver area said they have responded to 25 sudden-death calls in just a 24-hour period. As the Associated Press reported, the Vancouver police department “asked the public to call 911 only for emergencies because heat-related deaths had depleted front-line resources and delayed response times.”