Over the past decade, our planet and its inhabitants have experienced a staggering amount of extreme weather patterns.
This extreme global weather has raised questions and concerns.
Why is this happening? Is it climate-related? Will it become worse?
These deadly events have destroyed lives, homes and hard-earned businesses around the world. With all this devastation comes a desperate need for these questions to be answered.
In this article, we will outline exactly what sort of weather the world has experienced, what the scientists say about it and what can be done to prevent them from becoming worse.
Extreme Weather Around the World: This Past Year
While there are many skeptics on the topic of climate change and its connection to extreme weather patterns, one this is for certain: the weather over the last couple years has been devastatingly awful in many areas of the world.
In 2017, we witnessed:
- An extreme heat wave in California that left six people dead, burst the state’s power grid and resulted in thousands without electricity.
- Massive floods all across India, Nepal and Bangladesh that affected over 40 million people. 1,300 people were killed and at least 1.5 million homes were damaged or destroyed.
- Hurricane Irma which destroyed the northern Caribbean, resulting in 27 dead, while in Florida, Hurrican Irma wiped power for roughly 64% of the area and killed four people through its record storm surges.
- Hurrican Harvey which caused devastating floods throughout Texas resulting in at least 70 deaths.
- Over 80 wildfires across 1.5 million acres in the western areas of the U.S. resulting in millions of dollars in fire suppression and restoration, not to mention precious ecosystems and wildlife.
This is only a fraction of the events that have occurred over the past year.
Despite this catastrophe, climate change has become so politicized in the United States that the term has been removed from various websites and official documents.
This ignores a huge key towards figuring out how to prevent further damage.
What Does Science Say About Climate Change and Extreme Weather?
While some climate scientists don’t believe that extreme weather has to do with the changing climate, many do.
What do they tell us about the connection between global warming and weather and how does it affect our future?
While there is still a lot of grey area around what sorts of weather events will occur and how extreme they will be, there are some facts we do know.
1. Heat Waves
The warming atmosphere will undoubtedly lead to a large amount of heat waves or at least very extreme heat lasting for days or weeks.
Heat waves have been increasing over the years throughout many parts of the world. While there have already been deadly consequences, these risks will continue to increase as the planet grows hotter.
2. Flooding and Storms
Warming leads to higher sea levels which are then translated to storm surge risks which contribute to the devastation caused by hurricanes.
A warming climate also heats up our oceans which can increase the likelihood of coastal storms.
A warmer climate can also hold more moisture. More moisture translates to heavier rainfall.
While some areas will experience heavy rainfall and coastal storms, in other areas of the world, higher temperatures will result in higher rates of evaporation and therefore dry soils.
While this negatively affects agriculture in many areas, dry soil and drought can cause forest fires. As we have seen throughout the last couple years, forest fires have become ramped. A further increase in temperature will only result in more.
While these few issues are what we know will happen if the planet continues to warm, there are many other hypotheses that have been made by scientists, yet not confirmed as we don’t know exactly how warm the planet will become in the upcoming years.
What Can We Do to Prevent These Extreme Weather Events?
The priority must be on recovery and prevention.
In order to ensure future weather events don’t become worse, we must make a conscious and powerful effort to help reduce our global emissions.
What is weather prevention? It’s being more aware of how our planet works, the delicate balance it relies on to provide life.
It also includes taking actionable steps towards changing our habits and ways that have been leading to this imbalance.
For a deeper look at what you can do to prevent these catastrophes from happening, head over to David Suzuki’s page and read up on how you can put a stop to climate change.