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Iraq’s 2015 heat wave was the worst on record.

120 degrees Fahrenheit. 50 degrees celsius. A dew point of 90 degrees and a Heat Index of 163 – one of the most extreme ever recorded. Yet, despite $40 billion spent on system upgrades, most Iraqis still have to make do with only a few hours of electricity a day – inconsistent power borne by Saddam-era wiring and supplemented by a network of neighborhood generators. Spotty power in one of the most oil-rich countries in the world, a place where a single blackout can mean death.

And people’s anger is boiling over. It’s a white-hot rage fueled by decades of climate change, drought, and inaction. It’s a fury baked in the stark heat of their government’s continued betrayal of its own citizens, a web of corruption that has left most provinces without reliable electricity for 13 years. Their anger has bubbled and churned, bringing thousands to Baghdad, to Nasiriyah.

— Jesse Donaldson is a Vancouver-based writer.

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