Nature is unique and unpredictable. Climate hazards are natural events in weather cycles. There have always been hurricanes, droughts, and floods, high winds. However, humankind is currently facing and witnessing a scale of destruction and devastation that is entirely new. So the question is – why are the weather events so severe?
We are all accustomed to certain weather conditions in the places where we live. But, lately, these conditions are nothing similar to what we know. They have become stronger, unexpected, and even frightening. The answer to all of this is climate change. The changes in the global climate initiate climate hazards and increase the risk of extreme weather disasters. These changes are seen through increased air and water temperatures which leads to rising sea levels. It also affects the storms, becoming very changed, with higher wind speeds, more intense, with prolonged droughts and wildfire seasons, as well as heavier precipitation and flooding. The evidence is more than overwhelming, and the results are truly terrible. Here is some data that shows how climate change has affected the natural flow of the weather conditions and events:
* the number of climate-related disasters has almost tripled in the last thirty years;
* the rate of the global sea-level rise was 2.5 times faster in the period between 2006 to 2016, than it was for almost all of the 20th century;
* More than 20 million a year are forced to leave their homes because of climate change;
* According to The New England Journal of Medicine, since 1990, natural disasters have affected about 217 million people each year and there were three times as many natural disasters between 2000 and 2009 compared to 1980-1989.
* According to the United Nations Environment Programme, by 2030, adapting and coping with the damages from climate change, will cost the developing countries $140-300 billion per year.
Most of this growth in numbers comes as a direct effect of climate change. Weather conditions today are way more extreme and unpredictable than they have been before, and all of that is a result of global warming. Natural disasters bring catastrophic results. They can completely change the face of some city, country, and even the Earth from above. They cause the deaths of people and animals and billions of dollars in losses.
Geophysical vs. Climate-Related Disasters
It is important to know how to make a difference between the types of natural disasters. Geophysical disasters include disasters caused by volcanoes, earthquakes, rockfalls, landslides, and avalanches, where they may not be a clear-cut relationship between the disaster and the weather.
Climate-related disasters are the ones where a direct causal connection can be established between the disaster and the weather. These types of disasters include hydrological events like floods, storm surges, coastal flooding, and meteorological events like storms, tropical cyclones, heat/cold, waves, droughts, and wildfires.
Here are some of the most destructive climate disasters of the past years which have led to huge damages and losses.
1. The Australian Bushfire
At the end of 2019, Australia was hit with the biggest disaster in the history of the continent. Starting in December 2019, the Australian bushfire did not show any signs of stopping or slowing down. As most of the countries and the world itself were celebrating the New Year, Australians were fighting to save their piece of land. At that time, Australia was facing one of the biggest natural disasters and several states called for an emergency in January 2020. the results of the Australian bushfire were devastating. Per the report issued by the Medical Journey of Australia, the Australian bushfire burned around 18.6 million hectares, destroyed over 5.900 buildings, and killed at least 34 people. Additional 400 people were killed due to the residual smoke inhalation.
2. Cyclones Idai and Kenneth
Back in March 2019, Cyclone Idai took the lives of almost 1000 across Zimbabwe, Malawi, and Mozambique in South Africa. Millions and more were devastated as they were left without food and basic services. As an addition to the cyclone, the lethal landslides that appeared took homes and destroyed a lot of land, crops, and infrastructure. The cyclone Kenneth was the second hit. It arrived around six weeks after Idai, and it swept everything through Mozambique. It hit areas where no tropical cyclone has been observed since the satellite era.
3. East Africa drought
As a result of the higher sea temperatures, which are directly linked to climate change, the likelihood of drought in the Horn of Africa region has been doubled. The region was hit by severe drought several times, first in 2011, then in 2017, and later in 2019. these droughts have wiped out the crops and the livestock. Due to this, the droughts have left 15 million people in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia in need of aid. However, only 35 percent of the aid effort was funded. People in these regions were left without the means to provide food on the table and were forced to leave their homes. Millions of people were facing additional problems such as acute food and water shortages.
4. Typhoon Hagibis in Japan
Typhoon Hagibis was the worst storm to hit Tokyo and the island nations in decades. The aftermath was what showed how both Japan and the climate have changed over the past 60 years. The typhoon has brought widespread devastation and disruption to densely populated cities, and infrastructure, and has led to the deaths of at least 25 people, with 15 declared missing. The casualties are believed to result mainly from landslides, or from being swept away by floodwaters. Hagibis hit Japan just a month after another intense storm, Faxai, caused widespread damage to property in parts of the country, including tens of thousands of homes.
5. South Asia Floods
12 million people have been forced to abandon their homes in India, Nepal, and Bangladesh due to the deadly floods and landslides. Two years ago, extremely heavy monsoon rains and intense flooding resulted in destroying, killing, and devastating the lives of the people living in these same countries. In some places, the flooding was so intense and severe, one that has not been seen in the last 30 years. For example, a whole third of Bangladesh was underwater. Of course, some flooding is expected in situations where there are monsoon and monsoon season, but the scientists have reported that the monsoon rains and their intensity come as a result of the rising sea surface temperatures in South Asia.
In cases like this, it is repetitive and evident that the poorest ones suffer the most. However, no continent is immune from global warming and its impacts, with the real example being the Australian bushfire. Nature is always trying to tell us that we do not take enough and proper care for it. As global warming is constantly increasing, there will only be higher and more severe disasters that will hit the world. That is why, scientists on a global level, urge everyone to think and take care of the planet. Nature is strong and powerful, and it does wipe out certain places. The numbers of human lives are only growing and it is time to stop, think, and take action into preserving the further destruction of the planet.