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06 Oct 2021 | 12:40 PM

A Closer Look at Climate Driven Extreme Weather
UN SDG SUPPORTED
Climate Action
Life on Land

As COP26 looms on the horizon, all eyes are beginning to shift towards host-city Glasgow. There is a sense of urgency as delegates from around the world negotiate a new set of climate change goals.

The Sixth Assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a document written by leading scientists, is set to help guide policymakers' decisions. However, in a first for the IPCC, the report was leaked several months before its publication date and contained grave warnings about how the world's climate was on the verge of deregulation.

There was no doubt: the window to reduce the impacts of climate change is rapidly closing. But what exactly are these impacts?

Extreme Weather Events – Stronger & More Often

The continued degradation of the environment is leading to more extreme weather events around the world.

If you have been paying attention, you may have noticed more frequent floods, hurricanes, wildfires, and the like. Yet, it isn't just frequency that has increased. It is also their size and intensity.

From a purely physical standpoint, these extreme events are more destructive than those faced by previous generations, and they are happening a lot more often.

Around the world, and especially in developing nations, this trend has materialized over the decades. Recently it has become more prominent in developed countries like Germany, Australia, and even the United States.

What is Causing this Trend?

Years of climate deregulation have created stressed environments capable of creating and maintaining severe weather events.

Drought across the U.S. west coast and Canada led to more dangerous fire conditions. Warmer sea temperatures have helped increase the destructiveness of hurricanes and cyclones in the Caribbean and Pacific. Melting permafrost in Siberia has opened up opportunities for fire to tear through, while downstream rivers have begun to swell and spill their banks as rainfall becomes heavier.

The small changes happening to the environment are compounding and culminating in severe climatic conditions. What is worrisome is that these events will increase and worsen as they result from carbon emissions from decades ago.

So, what can we expect from the impact of emissions being released today?

Negative Feedback Loop

As the call for action has shifted away from 'saving the planet' to 'saving ourselves', so have the efforts to communicate how climate change can affect us.

Scientists have warned that human health will be affected by rising temperatures. These temperatures play a hand in making environments uninhabitable and affect everything from our physical reaction to heat to disease outbreaks. It can be linked to compromising water security and other resources integral to both human and environmental health, reducing snow and ice coverage, and contributing to warming seas.

In turn, these issues create larger storms capable of far more destruction and often strike nations without the capacity to rebuild adequately. This ultimately leads to human migration or civil unrest.

Hurricane Ida is One of Many Devasting Storms

While theorized to happen mostly in developing countries, Hurricane Ida showed that it could even impact the United States. Ida caused $95 billion in damage, mainly in the Gulf Coast states, which are particularly vulnerable due to existing local issues.

 

The environmental impact of severe weather events is undeniable, yet the economic and social implications are often forgotten.

Hurricanes and cyclones alone are responsible for significant socio-economic and environmental damage. They will worsen. Yet this doesn't consider the other environmental stressors that are becoming more unpredictable and frequent - heatwaves, droughts, monsoons, wildfires, floods, storms…

As the deregulation of the climate catches up with the carbon we are emitting, the environment will become a lot more hostile than it is presently, especially in nations that cannot adapt. 

Call for Action

These rapid changes are having physical impacts on the environment and the people living within them. While this has been happening in developing countries for decades, it has become more prevalent in developed nations.

Disclaimer: This information represents the personal views and opinions of the author(s). It does not represent the views and opinions of UN GCNI, UNGC, SOCIOLADDER FOUNDATION, THE SUSTAINEVERSE PLATFORM, or any other third party including sponsors, strategic partners, or other users of SUSTAINEVSERSE. While UN GCNI and SOCIOLADDER  strive to make the information on the SUSTAINEVERSE Platform as timely and accurate as possible, they make no claims, promises, or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the contents. Any views or opinions expressed are not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, community, organization,  company or individual. 

BY Eric Koons