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LETTER FROM MONTREAL

A dog at a standstill in a downtown Montreal street, determined to take advantage of the saving droplets released by one of the many foggers set up by the municipality. Children in simple panties crowding in the paddling pools of the city’s parks. A handful of residents of a dilapidated building in a working-class neighborhood on the north of the island of Montreal, settling for the night at the foot of their building with a pillow as their only adornment, unable to sleep in their apartment which has become furnace. A few snapshots of the Montreal summer.

On August 21, the Quebec metropolis and its inhabitants melted below 35 ° C at the height of the day, or even 42 ° C if we are to believe “Humidx”, an indicator measuring “The sensation of heat felt by the body”. A record that swept away that of 1916, when the thermometer peaked at 33.3 ° C. It is also the first time in August 2021, that Montreal experienced two successive heatwaves a few days apart. In question according to the research of meteorologists, a “Blocking” atmospheric which prevents the high pressure from circulating normally.

These two long weeks of extreme heat over the entire province of Quebec were accompanied by a flagrant deficit in precipitation. The drought prompted Quebec City to impose, for the first time in its history, restrictions on the consumption of drinking water, as the rivers supplying the city received ten times less rainfall than normal.

This singular Canadian summer began with the dome of heat settling over the Vancouver region in western Canada at the end of June, and historic heat records of over 47 ° C for several days; it continued with forest fires in this province of British Columbia which, by early August, had already destroyed more than a million hectares; in the heart of the country, in the Prairies, the great plains of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, persistent water scarcity has ravaged crops.

“The exceptional becomes the norm”

“It’s an exceptional summer, but in reality the exceptional years follow one another and end up becoming normality”, explains Sebastian Weissenberger. This professor of environmental sciences at Teluc University in Quebec wants to believe that this extreme summer will serve as a “Click”, when the innumerable reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have only provoked a cautious awareness: “Even our northern metropolises will have to adapt to the consequences of climate change, the time has undoubtedly come for Canada to put in place more interventionist policies”, he believes.

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