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Alberta grapples with devastation as wildfire blazes through community

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Fort McMurray fires. Creative Commons: 2016

More than 60,000 people have been forced out of their homes in Fort McMurray, Alberta, for the biggest evacuation in the province’s history due to a wildfire.

The wildfire continues blazing through Fort McMurray, destroying homes, businesses, and even blowing up a gas station.

Home to Canada’s tar sands industry, the community has already been hit by the volatile drop in the price of oil globally.

Alberta has also been especially vulnerable to extreme weather impacts as temperatures reach record highs throughout the province, even devastating the local farming industry.

As conditions worsen in Fort McMurray, and extreme weather threatens communities across the globe, these events send a strong signal to leaders that the only way to protect the world’s most vulnerable people from these impacts is by curbing rising temperatures once and for all.

Key Points

  • Climate change is making fires more extreme and more frequent. Reports suggest that the wildfire was caused by rising temperatures – hitting nearly 33DegC on 3 May – and low humidity in the Canadian city, and is expected to worsen as winds are forecasted to increase at speeds of 25 to 50 km/h. Although wildfires are not new to the region, as the world continues to warm, the area is increasingly sensitive to the growing risks
  • Communities, not corporations, are paying for the true cost of fossil fuels. People from Fort McMurray have lost everything to blazing wildfires, while in Australia, the world heritage Great Barrier Reef and its multibillion tourism industry have been decimated by unnatural ocean heat. Extreme weather has a massive toll on people and their communities, and each event can be traced back to fossil fuel impacts.
  • Climate action must be part of a holistic response to tackle extreme weather. Properly resourced and trained emergency personnel, strong public education, and preventative measures are absolutely needed. But to truly respond to growing fire risks, far more needs to be done to reduce carbon emissions, clean up national and global energy systems and economies, and protect and regenerate natural environments.

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