Last week, Hurricane Fiona hit Puerto Rico, causing flooding, mudslides and a massive power outage that still waits to be resolved, now leaving Puerto Ricans in a prolonged blackout. The Puerto Rican government has reported that, due to the hurricane, at least 16 people have died from causes directly related to the hurricane, and are predicting more deaths due to complications caused by the hurricane. The power grid in Puerto Rico is fragile and prone to prolonged blackouts, due to facility neglect and its reliance on exported fossil fuels which has been affected by the Russia-Ukraine War. With several essential services relying on electricity, Puerto Ricans have subsequently been left without running water.
A lot of fears from Puerto Rico come from how the aftermath of Hurricane Maria was handled. In 2017, Hurricane Maria left Puerto Ricans in a prolonged blackout for almost a whole year, which contributed to about 3,000 deaths and the country struggled to rebuild their infrastructure due to a lack of funding and materials. This led to Puerto Rico privatizing its power grid with LUMA Energy and ever since, Puerto Rico pay some of the highest rates for electricity in the United States. Despite the privatization, Puerto Ricans did not have the opportunity to improve their electric system and Hurricane Fiona placed them in the same situation they were in five years ago. The Puerto Rican government plans on increasing its usage of renewable energy sources to remedy these issues as they look into rebuilding after the hurricane.
This is one of the many events that has occurred as a result of climate change recently. Earlier this month, Pakistan flooded due to heavy monsoon rains. This left much of the population without a home and savings with the increased risk of water-borne illness and malnutrition. Similarly, to Puerto Rico, Pakistan also experienced floods in 2010, displacing millions of people. In Puerto Rico, specifically, according to the U.S. National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, the increases in stronger hurricanes and their intensity cannot be explained by natural variability. The reality of these occurrences around the world are the immediate effects of climate change that will become more common in the coming years.