The official death toll from this year’s La Nina weather system is sitting at just six, but hundreds of people have already been left seriously ill by the intense fluctuations in ocean temperatures. Hundreds more are being treated for serious reactions to the effects of the low-pressure weather system, which killed scores of tropical fish this year. Now, another disaster has struck the region of Sicily, where the drought-like conditions have turned La Nina into a full-blown drought. The government has taken measures to combat the problem and the government’s Emeritus Minister Roberto Maroni has reminded people to choose vaccination, or else life will be made extremely difficult by any of them getting infected with a disease that is nearly impossible to stop — for example, the H1N1 flu.
Shahmali, a 52-year-old construction worker from Sicily, became ill when he came in contact with diarrhea he contracted after cooking with uncooked tomatoes. He was subsequently diagnosed with a malignant tumor in his throat, causing the loss of his ability to speak and swallow and a profound mental disability. The ruling, which prohibits any further harvest until the weather shows signs of improvement, effectively means that many workers will be forced to spend the holiday season at home and feel miserable at the prospect of spending Christmas away from their families. The Labor and Worker Protection Services worked with a representative of the Consumatori (the Sicilian workers’ rights organization) to make the summer harvest possible, but now that is over. The young, unemployed, and unvaccinated families who would have otherwise bought vegetables are now facing unaccustomed hardships this winter.
It’s believed that the people of Sicily were ill prepared for La Nina. During the worst part of the drought, the government launched work-for-the-dole schemes to give farmers a share of the stock, but the unemployed men didn’t like the idea and fought back against the scheme, claiming that they worked long hours and weren’t getting enough money. The Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte, recently supported the families of the unemployed in blocking the pilot project.
Fadi Elgizouli has written for The Guardian, The Washington Post, The New York Times, Tablet Magazine, FRANCE 24, and The Associated Press.
La Nina, interlude, reality check: can the world brace for worse?