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5 climate disasters in 2021 that call for urgent climate action

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5 climate disasters in 2021 that call for urgent climate action

Occurrences such as hurricanes, wildfires, storms, though highly undesirable, are not new. In the past, climate disasters were seen as natural events in weather cycles.

However, the human race is currently witnessing a scale of destruction and devastation that is both new and terrifying.

Across the globe, a series of deadly extreme weather is a slight hint of what the world would look like if the global temperature exceeds 1.5 degrees Celsius. Whatever the future holds for our changing climate holds, we know it cannot be entirely rosy if current events are any indication.

Even now extreme weather is already claiming the lives, property, and businesses of people. You may recall that in August, we wrote on a report published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that climate change is driving the worst weather events mankind has ever seen.

Could 2021 finally be the year when climate predictions will be taken seriously? Perhaps like some deniers, you feel that scientists and climate activists are blowing things out of proportion?

Whichever it is, let’s consider top climate disasters- in Africa and beyond- that occurred this year, hoping you draw your own conclusions as to the precariousness of the condition of our rapidly-warming earth.

Deadly floods

This year alone, as of August, reports have it that flooding has affected 669,000 people in West and Central Africa, particularly in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Gambia, Niger, Chad, Nigeria, Togo, the Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic, and Ghana.

Heavy rainfalls, floods, and windstorms were responsible for the deaths of 192 people, injuring 300, displacing 70,350, and destroying 77,000 houses.

Beyond Africa, countries in western Europe were ravaged by floods after torrential rain left at least 209 people dead in Germany and Belgium, as well as dozens missing.

A historic deluge also claimed at least 33 lives in China. In a similar vein, the U.S. did not escape unscathed as some parts of the country also experienced deadly flooding events in mid-July.

Whereas in October and November, heavy rains in India and Sri Lanka triggered fatal flash flooding and landslides. Needless to say, worldwide flooding events dominated global news in 2021.

Droughts

Sub-Saharan Africa has always been prone to droughts which are made worse by climate change. Long periods of droughts have caused extensive damage especially to vulnerable communities whose primary livelihood comes from agriculture.

With the rainy season significantly delayed, with little to no rainfall observed in many arid and semi-arid areas, countries like Kenya, southern and central Somalia, Angola, central Nigeria, southern Madagascar, and northern Zambia are in the grip of severe drought.

Drought occurs when the air warms and sucks more moisture out of rivers, lakes, plants, and even the soil, which in turn makes the ground even hotter and drier. As a result of this, millions of people in Africa are presently facing acute food and water shortages.

Extreme temperature

Without a doubt, Africa holds many heat-related records. It’s been described as the continent that has the hottest extended region year-round, the one with the hottest summer climate, and so forth.

However, Africa has been warming steadily in the last two decades, with a temperature anomaly of 1.48 degrees Centigrade in April, according to data by the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). We may not understand all the sciency stuff but we do know that it’s exceptionally hot.

What does this mean for Africa? Because of rising temperatures and more-frequent heat extremes, the rates of heat-related illnesses have surged.

Even worse, research suggests that sub-Saharan Africa could experience an additional 50 deaths per day from diseases such as malaria and dengue fever. That’s one scary prediction!

Wildfires

When extreme heat meets drought, they join forces to drain the soil’s moisture creating behind dry vegetation that is primed to ignite with a small spark.

In the last couple of months, parts of northern Africa, particularly Algeria, experienced extreme heat that led to devastating forest fires. Around 90 people were killed by the blazes, including volunteers who battled to put out the inferno with insufficient resources.

From California’s wildfires to those that broke out in Turkey, Greece, and Siberian Russia, climate change continues to worsen heat and drought, creating the conditions for larger and more frequent fires.

As with most climate disasters, wildfires cause ripple effects. This year’s wildfires posed great harm to human lives, properties and businesses. More so, they also increased air pollution and drove endangered species closer to extinction.

Tropical cyclone

January 2021 ushered in tropical Cyclone Eloise as it swept through some parts of Africa, unleashing heavy rainfall and strong winds on Madagascar, Mozambique, and South Africa.

Not only did Eloise leave at least 12 people dead, but it also affected more than 467,000 people across the three regions.

Are these weather-related disasters mere coincidence? Both scientific evidence and real-life experiences prove that this is not the case.

While climate change is affecting all countries, rich and poor, countries in the developing world disproportionately bear the brunt despite being the least contributor to climate change.

If current climate crises have taught us anything, it is that there’s a need for urgent humanitarian action to help vulnerable communities adapt to the changing climate.

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