Climate Change: Extreme Weather

While you cannot link any one weather event to climate change, it is widely agreed by scientists all over the world that human induced climate change is going to increase the frequency and severity of extreme weather. It’s not hard to find examples. Here are a few: In 2012 Hurricane Sandy ripped through the Carribean, Cuba, Central America and the United States, killing at least 286 people and leaving a wake of destruction. In this article they quote Ed Pooley, senior vice president of the Environmental Defence Fund.

 We can’t say that steroids caused any one home run by Barry Bonds, but steroids sure helped him hit more and hit them farther. Now we have weather on steroids.

Typhoon Haiyan in the Phillipines may have been the strongest storm ever recorded. Four million people have been left homeless and the death toll is predicted to exceed 10,000. Although the Phillipines is a region that has always been prone to typhoons, scientits have stated that rising sea levels, warmer water and other changes to our climate contributed to the ferocity of this storm. People in the Phillipines have no doubt about the links, as shown by this impassioned plea for climate action from Yeb Sano, the Filipino delegate at the UN climate talks in Warsaw.

yeb sano

Click here to watch a section of Yeb Sano’s speech in Warsaw

  In October, devastating fires ripped across New South Wales, unprecedented in their ferocity and how early in the season they were. Politicians got into furious debate over the issue. Adam Bandt from the Greens slammed the Coalitions’ move to repeal the carbon tax while Australian’s were suffering the effects of climate change. Prime Minister Abbott criticized Mr Bandt for “politicizing” the issue and said that “These fires are certainly not a function of climate change, they are just a function of life in Australia.” Christina Figueres, the climate chief of the United Nations, said that the bushfires were “absolutely” linked to climate change and that the Abbott government would pay a heavy price for walking away from a carbon price. Prime Minister Abbott simply said that Ms Figueres was “talking through her hat”. The fires in NSW killed two people, destroyed hundreds of houses and caused damages of almost $100million. Jim Casey, head of the Fire Brigade Employees Union, wrote this firm article calling for action against climate change to prevent more fires like this from happening. The Australian Government likes to use an economic argument to justify their lack of action on climate change. However in the last few years, extreme weather events have been getting more frequent and more severe, costing countries billions of dollars.  Global damage from extreme weather events almost broke $200 billion in 2012. The World Bank has identified a steady rise in the amount of money spent on extreme weather clean-up. It also said that 325 million of the world’s poor could be exposed to weather disasters by 2030. For the Phillipines, AIR Worldwide have forecast the total economic loss at anywhere between $6.5 billion and $15 billion dollars. So that we can save a few dollars on our electricity bills, the world’s most vulnerable will pay the price.