In the name of climate #16

We try, every month, to dispel some widespread beliefs about the environment, climate change and energy transition. In this edition: five weather events in the last year, partly linked to climate change, caused hundreds of deaths and billions of euros of damage.

The British NGO Christian Aid has compiled the data on the damage caused by the most devastating climate events of 2021, such as Hurricane Ida in North America and Cyclone Tauktae in India and Sri Lanka. The report published by the organisation states that, due to climate change, “these kinds of disasters are likely to worsen in the future unless steps are taken to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Not all extreme weather events are caused by climate change, but according to the most recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) of the United Nations, the leading international body for climate change studies, the proof that human activities influence the scale and severity of tropical storms, including hurricanes and cyclones, is becoming increasingly abundant.

Hurricane Ida (August/September). A number of states in the US - including Louisiana, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York - were struck by a “category 4” hurricane that brought winds with gusts of over 200 kilometres an hour: 95 people lost their lives and, three months on, many people are still homeless. Estimated damages are in excess of € 50 billion.

The flood in Europe (July). The unprecedented rainfall in Germany (the worst-hit country) Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg resulted in the deaths of at least 240 people and caused almost € 40 billion of damage. Floods like these, characterised by very intense rainfall in a very short period of time, can be linked to certain effects of climate change.

A prolonged increase in global temperatures raises humidity levels and increases the volume of precipitation in several areas of the planet (AndrewNeel/Pexels.com)

The snowstorm in Texas (February). In Texas, five million people were left without electricity and 215 people lost their lives due to a snowstorm and very low temperatures. The financial damage to insured assets was € 20 billion, but the actual total is estimated to be around 10 times higher.

The flood in China (July). In Henan, in the centre of China, intense rainfall led to the deaths of 300 people. More than a million people were evacuated and thousands of them lost their homes. The damages reached € 15 billion. Due to global warming, in China floods are becoming increasingly frequent and numerous, and the country has one of the highest risks of intense rainfall in the world.

The flood in Canada (November). Intense rainfall also affected the Canadian region of British Columbia: thousands of people had to abandon their homes, the city of Vancouver was temporarily cut off from the rest of the country and four people died. Total damages are estimated to be € 7 billion. The flood has been attributed to a prolonged period of rising temperatures which causes higher humidity levels and increases the volume of precipitation.