Adhering to global climate pacts should no longer be optional

With millions affected by soaring temperatures around the globe and forest fires ripping through continents as we speak, curbing industrial poison is anything but an abstract aspiration

A firefighting aircraft drops flame retardant to put out a fire in Rigaud, north of Nice, southeastern France, on August 3, 2017.
France has been battling for several weeks huge fires near beaches popular with tourists on the Cote d'Azur, forcing the evacuation of people. / AFP PHOTO / Yann COATSALIOU
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A deadly heat wave has hit Europe yet again. Tourists hoping for mild and sunny weather along the southern coasts of Europe have instead found themselves melting in the sweltering heat. In fact, the unprecedented heatwave has claimed at least two victims so far, and neither of them are in the south. The latest heatwave, nicknamed Lucifer, is causing chaos across airports.

Meanwhile, the second-worst wildfire to hit British Columbia on the western coast of Canada – and the worst in almost 60 years – continues to rage, just as the forest fires of France, Spain, Italy and Portugal ravaged large terrains right before it.

According to a report published in The Guardian newspaper, climate change is poised to cause humid heatwaves so intense, they can kill within hours. Such “wet bulb” temperatures – where the body will no longer be able to regulate heat – will be a threat to the entire Indian subcontinent by the end of the century. Indeed, as a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the United States put it, global climate change, to a place like India, is no longer abstract, it is about how to save vulnerable populations.

As whales continue to wash up on the world's shores with piles of plastic in their stomachs, the issue is no longer a theory that we can optionally espouse as a worthy cause. It is an urgent necessity and a race against a ticking time bomb. An industrial superpower like the United States leaving the Paris climate pact will have ramifications for the entire globe. As it turns out, countries are at the mercy of Mother Nature now. They can comply or, as we saw in recent weeks, face her wrath.