Climate change: Huge toll of extreme weather disasters in 2021


R&I – FS

Weather events, linked to a changing climate, brought misery to millions around the world in 2021 according to a new report. The study, from the charity Christian Aid, identified 10 extreme events that each caused more than $1.5bn of damage. The biggest financial impacts were from Hurricane Ida which hit the US in August and flooding in Europe in July. In many poorer regions, floods and storms caused mass displacements of people and severe suffering.

Not every extreme weather event is caused by or linked to climate change, although scientists have become bolder in exploring the connections. One leading researcher, Dr Friederike Otto, tweeted earlier this year that every heatwave happening in the world now is “made more likely and more intense” by human induced climate change. In relation to storms and hurricanes, there is growing evidence that climate change is also affecting these events.

In August, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published the first part of its sixth assessment report. In relation to hurricanes and tropical cyclones, the authors said they had “high confidence” that the evidence of human influence has strengthened. “The proportion of intense tropical cyclones, average peak tropical cyclone wind speeds, and peak wind speeds of the most intense tropical cyclones will increase on the global scale with increasing global warming,” the study said.

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