Friday, January 6, 2023

Four Catastrophic Disasters Due To Climate Change

4:48 PM | ,

We are experiencing the ongoing sixth mass extinction event on the Earth known as the ‘Holocene extinction’ and experts agree that human intervention has been a major factor in accelerating this phase. Although the peak extinction event will take millions of years to have a significant effect, that is why many conservatives do not take the climate change debate seriously, thus calling it a false alarm.

But the effects of climate change are now visible and have been manifesting as an increase in the frequency of natural disasters. Global warming, an increase in the greenhouse effect, and an increase in weather shifting are some of the prime markers to understand the effects of climate change.

Although there have been previous phases of climate change and Earth oscillates between periods of hot and cold climate, the rise in the human causes of increasing emission of greenhouse gases, and excessive usage of fuel have been studied to affect climate change like never before. Climate has changed in the past on its own but modern pollution has been its severe accelerator. Let’s look at some of the huge disasters that happened in the past few years due to climate change.

1. California Wildfires

2020 was undoubtedly a devastating period in modern history. From coronavirus to different wildfires in Australia and California, billions of worth of property were destroyed, animals were killed and ecology was uprooted completely.

California continues to experience longer wildfire seasons as a direct result of climate change.

California has some periodic wildfires that usually start with the lightning season but the one in 2020 was quite alarming. Climate change was associated as one of the primary causes of the disaster. Around 9900 fires were reported and 4,397,809 acres of forest were completely burnt to ashes. There were an estimated 10000 structures that collapsed and in total, 12 billion dollars worth of property was destroyed.

It was the largest wildfire season in the history of California. As usual, the fire season started with lightning in August. Experts believe that changes in the wind condition & increases in the global temperature due to climate change were the main causes. There was a record heatwave in California and a significant increase in Katabatic winds, that is the high-density winds flowing from high elevation down the slope that exposed a large area to burn for a long time.

Due to climate change, there has been an increase in droughts, an increase in the frequency of lightning, and the dryness of vegetation. All these changes are major factors responsible for such large-scale burnings.

2. China Floods

China has a well-developed water system and dam arrangements, and yet there has been a significant increase in the occurrence of floods in the river basins of mainland China.

China experienced 21 large-scale floods in 2020, setting a historical record due to climate change.

The effect of climate change has been sourced as the cause of significant increase and change in rain patterns that causes heavy floods, and one such event was the floods in June 2020. There were heavy seasonal rains that caused large-scale flooding in southern China. This flood was reported to be the worst flood in China since 1998, and it later spread to eastern and central China by July.

Till August, around 64 million people were affected and 54000 houses collapsed. More than 2000 people were found dead or missing. The increase in rain was associated with an increase in the water vapor rising from the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. This is another climate change-related incident. An increase in global warming results in the ocean getting more heat and releasing more water vapor into the atmosphere.

3. Cyclone Amphan

The most visible effect of climate change has been the increase in the number of cyclonic events happening all around the world. The oceanic currents and evaporation is the major factor in generating weather patterns in the coastal cities.

The cyclone intensified from a category 1 cyclonic storm to a category 5 super cyclone in less than 36 hours.

An increase in the temperature of the sea surface contributes to the strengthening of cyclones and increase in the intensity of rainfall. In May 2020, one such super cyclone formed in the region of the Bay of Bengal. The serious concern was that it took only 40 hours to charge from a cyclone to a super cyclone.

It affected the eastern coastal region of the Indian subcontinent. West Bengal, Odisha, Bangladesh, and some parts of Sri Lanka were severely affected. A total of 13 billion dollars of damage was reported in the aftermath assessment. It was the costliest cyclone that ever happened in the Northern Indian Ocean.

118 people were dead and many still missing. It was also the strongest cyclone that hit the state of West Bengal since 1582. Experts agree that apart from usual causes, the major factor that accelerated the growth of cyclones was the high sea surface temperature of 32-34 degrees in the upper region of the Bay of Bengal.

4. Australian Bushfire

2019 was about to end. The entire world was celebrating but Australia was burning like never before. Australia, like any forest-dominated region, goes through a periodic season of bushfires that lasts from September to March. But this bushfire was so deadly that it was called Black summer.

The bushfires that ravaged Australia between 2019 and 2020 were so huge that they spewed as much smoke into the stratosphere as a large volcanic eruption.

Around 18 million hectares of forest area were completely burnt to ashes and 6000 buildings collapsed. While human casualties were less, around 1 billion animals were killed and many of them were pushed to the stage of extinction. Habitats of a large number of animals were destroyed. The harmful gases released every second contributed to the rise of hazardous air quality.

The major areas were affected in the region of New South Wales and later spread to eastern Victoria. Increases in lightning and diminished rainfall are the major factors related to fire. The ongoing drought season in eastern Australia provided the dry land required for constant burning. Experts believe that the effect of climate change is so severe that such events will be seen in the future more frequently and will last much longer.

Expansion of desert, heat waves, frequent wildfires, increase in storms and cyclones, strange weather patterns, and adverse impacts on the ecosystem are the effects visible right in front of our eyes. Climate change will increase such disasters all around the world, thus a sustainable and more eco-friendly approach to development should be a priority for all major world economies.

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