Hundreds of people have lost their lives in recent floods in Europe in countries such as Germany, Denmark, and Austria, and in Asia in countries such as India and China. The floods, in some of these places, have seen a year’s worth of rainfall come down in a few days. The floods, according to specialists, are exacerbated by climate change and are a direct glimpse into the future of extreme weather events we can expect in the coming years and decades due to climate change. It’s very scary to think of how our future will be if floods can just sweep off buildings in minutes and forest fires are growing bigger and deadlier every season.
Numerous places in the United States, Canada, and Russia have experienced huge forest fires. Most forest fires have been caused by lightning but others by human activity and people interacting with forests. The reason for increasing forest fires may also be forest management policies that saw forest cover overly increase, providing the needed fuel for catastrophic fires. The tragedy couldn’t come at a worse time as the world is still experiencing rapid increases in COVID-19 infections and deaths, after the jarring year that was 2020.
Forest fires and floods are examples of what can be expected to occur as the planet continues to warm up. Floods are caused by heavy rains that lead rivers to break their banks or dams to collapse. The sudden and heavy rainfall leads to floods that see rising waters in a matter of minutes. The raging floods carry with them whatever is on their path leading to the destruction of homes, public places, and infrastructures such as bridges and water and electricity systems.
Climate change has led to increasingly deadly floods due to the effect that it has had on the amount of rainfall coming down in a particular area or region. Typically, regions will experience moderate rainfall. However, as the planet is warmer, and as hot air is capable of holding more moisture, different regions will experience huge amounts of rainfall in a short time. Due to the huge amounts of rainfall, most flood warning systems may be overwhelmed and even areas that are not considered flood-prone may see unprecedented flooding.
The Effects of Climate Change
Climate change has also meant that the evaporation of water from the ground happens more rapidly and more water evaporates into the atmosphere. On reaching the atmosphere, the gaseous liquid or vapor is held in large amounts by hot air in the atmosphere. When condensation happens, this huge amount of water that is in gaseous form comes down as unprecedented amounts of rainfall that then leads to floods.
Climate change is so bad that warm winds from deserts such as the Sahara can lead to areas of warm air above Europe. The warm air would then cause heatwaves but also hold more water vapor that could lead to excessive rainfall. Mind you, a heatwave also means that more water evaporates from the ground and when the air above is hot, all this vapor is held by the hot air and later condenses leading to huge amounts of rainfall.
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As it is, some regions have already broken records when it comes to rising temperatures and even rainfall. Scientists indicate that more and more records will continue to be broken if enough is not done to tackle climate change. A climate report recently leaked from the UN says that by the time when a child born today reaches 30, in 2051, the planet could be uninhabitable. That is if we do not avert increasing global warming. The unfortunate thing is that to reduce the amount of temperature increases caused by climate change, radical efforts are needed by the world’s most industrious countries.
China is the world’s biggest polluter and since it is governed by an authoritarian government, it is expected that it will be very difficult to convince and make it reduce its greenhouse emissions. China is not the only culprit. The USA is the second-largest global polluter, followed by European powerhouses such as Germany and the U.K. All these nations and the world as a whole, need to do more to curb climate change and avert its negative effects.
Keeping it Two Degrees
We all have a part to play in ensuring that we stay within the recommended 2 degrees of global temperature rises or global warming. Every little effort counts. We all have the power and capability to have a positive impact on the environment. We all have a say and role to play in mitigating climate change. Governments should be at the forefront of enacting climate-friendly policies and ensuring that they are enforced. The private sector should come up with more innovations and investments that lead to a healthier planet such as electronic mobility, among others.
Non-governmental organizations and civil society should be at the forefront of assisting those that are currently experiencing the adverse effects of climate change and informing governments and other stakeholders on the importance of climate action. Everyone has a role to play. For instance, an initiative that seeks to have all people switch off electricity and electronic devices for a minute worldwide can have significant effects in the long run. This is especially the case when one does not require an initiative or call to action to conserve energy and be environmentally responsible.