When disaster strikes, is climate change to blame? (2023)

LIn November, the spring weather in South America jumped from cold to steamy. Usually at that time of the year, people would have a barbecue in the yard, orbaking, in the lingering evening light. But on December 7, the temperature in northern Argentina, near the borders of Bolivia and Paraguay,hit 115 degrees Fahrenheit, making it one of the hottest places on Earth. The heat exacerbated a three-year drought, parching the soil and shrinking huge wheat crops before harvest.

As the Argentine government restricted wheat exports and warned people to stay indoors, a small team of scientists from around the world logged on to Zoom. They belonged to the World Weather Attribution (WWA) group, a collaboration of climate researchers founded in 2014 by Friederike Otto and Geert Jan van Oldenborgh to address a persistent, vexing question: Is climate change making extreme weather events worse and, if so, in what way? ? The group's ambitious goal is to provide clear answers almost as quickly as disaster strikes—for the public, media and policymakers, as well as for emergency managers and urban planners trying to understand how to prepare for the next severe event.

For example, just over a week after the 2021 heat dome began warming the US Pacific Northwest, the team released a careful and comprehensive assessment based on previous science. It concluded that the record-setting circumstances would have been nearly impossible without human-caused climate change, noting that temperatures "were so extreme that they lie well outside the range of historically observed temperatures." When parts of India and Pakistan suffered life-threatening heatwaves in the spring of 2022team assessedthat climate change has made a heat wave warmer and more likely. And when large parts of Pakistan were flooded last summer,group foundthat climate change could increase the amount of precipitation by as much as 50 percent.

This speed and certainty is a major advance in analyzing extreme weather events from a decade ago, when many scientists were hesitant to say how climate change might have contributed to individual events. The area has "completely changed," Otto told me from her office — the walls covered with world maps — at the University of Oxford, where she is a professor of global climate science. Fredi, as her colleagues call her, was born in Germany and is now a citizen of the United Kingdom. When she describes the history of the science of attribution, she is open: “In the beginning, people said, ‘You can't do it; the models are not good enough.'" Otto adds, "Now we know how to do it." Attributions in 2014 have been difficult and slow, in part because it can take more than a year for a scientific study to pass peer review. To address that backlog, WWA has developed a peer-reviewed methodology for quickly conducting this type of research and publishing the findings directly to the public.

Ten years ago the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said the science of attribution was not yet "fit for purpose". In contrast, the IPCC 2021reportcalled the science of attribution "robust." The growing ability to say decisively how climate change is to blame could have implications for everything from insurance claims and court cases to international negotiations over which nations should pay for climate adaptation. Otto also hopes that the WWA reports will show governments why it is essential to reduce emissions. And so last December, as high temperatures scorched Argentina, Bolivia and Paraguay, Otto and the rest of the WWA went to work.

Increasing trust

One of the first studies on climate attribution that was widely cited by other scientists waspublished in 2004 in Nature. It came out about a year and a half after Europe's hottest summer in centuries, when crops failed and glaciers in the Alps shrank by as much as 10 percent andmore than 30,000 peopledied. The lead author, Peter A. Stott, a climate scientist at the Met Office Hadley Center for Climate Science and Services in England, concluded that human influence has at least doubled the chances of a record heat wave. At the time, says Stephanie Herring, a climate scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the question was considered "super in the weeds," intriguing primarily to researchers who enjoyed debating statistical probability and the physical dynamics of the atmosphere. When she began publishing the annual report on extreme events for the American Meteorological Society in 2012, "none of us expected that there would be the level of public interest that this area of ​​research ended up gaining."

Interest soared after Superstorm Sandy hit New York City and New Jersey in October 2012. Everyone wanted to know how the storm could stay so strong so far north. A report released a few months later noted that excessive Arctic sea ice had melted earlier that year, creating large areas of open water that absorbed the sun's heat, which likely contributed to Sandy's fury—though linksare still describedas just one plausible theory. Scientists tend to be conservative, tend to underestimate the impact, says Kevin Trenberth, a distinguished scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. Most researchers were still reluctant to discuss how climate change might have affected a particular storm.

(Video) When can we blame climate change? Climate Now debate highlights

Advances in technology have made it easier to isolate the role of climate. In the early 2000s, few institutions had high-performance computing systems that could run climate models with large amounts of data. Today, with cloud services, researchers can do this work at home from a laptop. It is easier to combine models and run them multiple times, increasing confidence in the results. The accuracy of the models has also been improved, and their resolution has become much more precise, making them better at providing more precise information about specific locations.

As the field grew, two methods developed. One, known as probabilistic event attribution,used for assessmenthow much human behavior has contributed to the likelihood of a certain type of event, such as a heat wave, occurring. Scientists are comparing models of extreme weather dynamics with simulations of a world where climate change does not occur, discovering whether factors such as increased emissions have made an event more likely. WWAthe first study, for example, compared temperatures in five French cities during the 2015 heat wave with those of summers in the first half of the 1900s, finding that climate change has quadrupled the chance of a heat wave.

In contrast, the conditional or "story" approach asks questions about specific incidents: Has climate change made the rainfall of a particular storm more intense? This method emphasizes thermodynamic changes, such as warmer air containing more water vapor.

Trenberth, anan early supporterapproach to the story, says that the scientific discussion of the two methodologies was initiallysarcastic. When a 2014 study by NOAA's Martin Hoerling, conducted after intense flooding in Boulder, Colorado, showed that climate change had not increased the chance of heavy rain in the region, Trenberth and his colleagues disputed the results. They said the study did not take into account warm sea surface temperatures in Mexico, which Trenberth argued added significant moisture to the atmosphere, increasing total precipitation. Hoerling replied that Trenberth was oversimplifying.Full discussionshown in a published newspaper article inNature.

Over time, both camps realized that the approaches could complement each other. "In an ideal world, you'd always do both," says Otto. "They look at the problem in different ways." Both methods have the potential to provide important information about relative risk, says Elisabeth Lloyd, a fellow at the American Academy of Sciences and Arts. Together, the analyzes could tell policymakers whether roads and bridges will need to withstand heavier rainfall and could inform emergency managers about how often in the future they might control access to those roads and bridges due to storms.

The field made further progress in 2017 after Hurricane Harvey stalled over the greater Houston area for days, dropping as much as 60 inches of rain in places, far surpassing previous records. Trenberthfoundthat super-warm ocean water in the Gulf of Mexico created more evaporation than normal, which directly led to excess precipitation. A separate analysis by Otto and her colleagues found that climate change hadadded 15 percent more precipitation. Trenberth wrote that governments in hurricane-prone regions will need to plan for major flooding, including upgrading evacuation routes, building codes and power grids.

This is exactly the kind of social and political recipe that generates sharp criticism that climate scientists should "stay the course" - research but keep quiet about the implications. Otto says that she was sometimes criticized for being too political. "But there is no such thing as a neutral scientist," she says. "The questions we ask are always influenced by our values, who finances us, where we live. Making it transparent is what makes good science – not pretending it's not happening.”

The Argentine challenge

When WWA started, it analyzed only a few events a year. Now they meet online almost every week to discuss disasters. The small team must prioritize which incidents it deems worthy of investigation. Many of its scholars volunteer their time, juggling between research or teaching jobs and other commitments.

(Video) Climate change to blame for extreme weather, scientists say

To decide which disasters to study, scientistsestimatepotential humanitarian impacts using criteria developed by WWA for different types of events. For heat waves, factors include associated deaths and whether the affected area is densely populated or particularly vulnerable. WWA strives to take on incidents that harm many people, but also strives to cover different regions. "We don't just want to work on events in the Global North because that's where we happen to work," says Sarah Kew, a climate scientist at the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute. Breaking new scientific ground is also a factor, Otto says. WWA has decided not to study the Arctic blast that exposed millions of people in the US to dangerously low temperatures over the 2022 Christmas and New Year holidays because itpreviously studiedsimilar cold in North America and did not expect to find something new.

When disaster strikes, is climate change to blame? (2)

The South American heat wave caught the team's attention because it met several WWA criteria for heat waves: record temperatures occurring in very early summer in a vulnerable area. Although the first video conference to discuss the matter in late November 2022 offered some windows into the lives of the researchers — sunshine in Madrid, gloom in London — the meeting began without conversation. "We have an Argentine heat wave that has spread north," said Maja Vahlberg, who works with the Red Cross and Red Crescent Climate Center. "Is it related to La Niña?" Otto asked, referring to a circulation pattern in the Pacific Ocean that can increase the likelihood of heat waves in the Argentina region. In a quick chat, the team decided to reach out to scientists in South America for detailed information and quickly scheduled another meeting for early December. Twelve minutes after the call started, everyone logged out.

WWA works with local experts whenever possible, counting on them to know which datasets have the most comprehensive information about a region or how best to collect meteorological data there. At the meeting in early December, Juan Antonio Rivera, a climatologist from Argentina's Institute for Snow Research, Glaciology and Environmental Sciences, joined the Zoom collage from his office in Mendoza. Recent drought has affected northern Argentina, southern Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay, he told the group, but large parts of those regions lack a dense network of weather stations. One of the first tasks would be to see what data is available to analyze how the drought has intensified over time. It could help the group dig up information that may not be easy for people living in Europe to find or may not be accessible to them due to language barriers.

The scientists on the call - some in the Netherlands wearing sweaters, others sweating in the Chilean sun - discussed options for mitigating the effects of the drought heatwave. "Every time we have a heat wave, the drought gets worse," said Anna Sörensson, a researcher at the Franco-Argentine Institute for the Study of Climate and Its Impacts, who lives in Buenos Aires. Low water levels in rivers have cut off an important agricultural export route, along with hydroelectric power generation, she said. The shipping union even contacted her for advice on designing new ships to operate in lower reaches of rivers.

The team had to define each event in a productive way. Otto later told me that for any attribution study they have to find out what they can measure. For heat waves, the group looks for temperatures above a certain threshold for a certain period. Droughts are more complex because they can be characterized in many ways—lack of rain, soil moisture, or surface water levels. A definition may require multiple measurements. “If you have very high temperatures, you have very high evaporation, so you have low stream flow, which has a huge economic impact; you can't catch it just by looking at the rain,” Otto said.

Otto asked the team if they could do something quickly and meaningfully based on temperature and precipitation alone. The group sorted out the options: Heat waves are fairly easy to analyze because many have been studied and linked to climate change. But some WWA members advocated a larger, slower drought analysis. Finally, one member asked, "Is there an option to do both?"

Rivera impressed the others with how incredible the temperatures were in his homeland. "November was the warmest November on record in Argentina," he said. The group's enthusiasm for quickly building a heat study and giving the necessary time to a more complex drought study quickly grew. "It's something we haven't done before - one study, but published in two parts," Otto reflected. Before people winked out of the video meeting and returned to their physical realities, they shared tasks that everyone would do offline.

Within weeks, scientists used five different sets of computer models to compare the characteristics of today's climate to pre-industrial conditions. They focused on the hottest one-week period in early December and found that climate change makes a heat wave 60 times more likely to occur. Temperatures in Argentina were probably about 2.5 degrees F warmer than they would normally be. Prevision researchthey suggested that this difference could increase the risk of heat-related death by more than 5.7 percent. The WWA published its findings at the end of Decemberanother steamy oneoverwhelmed Argentina. "It is important to note that these record temperatures occurred before the start of the Australian summer season, making them particularly exceptional," the group wrote.

(Video) Climate change blamed for China flood disaster

As the team turned to their drought study, power went out in parts of Buenos Aires. Forest fires broke out across northern Argentina and neighboring Chile.

"What turns any weather event into a disaster is vulnerability and exposure," says Otto. Heat data alone does not show how much it affects people. If you don't look at scientific research and disaster response together, she says, "you just don't understand what climate change means." Latin America, for example, has high levels of inequality, with marginalized communities that aremore vulnerableto the health consequences of extreme weather conditions. Rivera recounted a meeting where desperate farmers knelt on dry ground and prayed for rain.

When disaster strikes, is climate change to blame? (3)

Although Argentina's plight has largely kept the headlines north of the equator, its impact will be felt globally. The country is a major exporter of wheat; estimated by the trade grouphalf of the wheat cropwill be lost in 2023 due to drought, and all crop losses could amount to10 billion dollars. Analysts have warned that the country's agricultural failures willfurther increasefood prices in the world.

WWA stands out in the climate research sphere for its willingness to deal directly with social factors. Otto points to a 2022 study by the WWAconducted in the African Sahelregion, which she says basically had nothing to do with the weather. The region's economy relies on rain to irrigate crops and sustain herds, but in 2021 the delayed rainy season has caused cascading food insecurity. "Even small shifts in rainfall," WWA wrote, "affect an already limited food supply." Due to large uncertainties in the datasets, the team was unable to determine whether there was a climate signal in precipitation changes, but cautioned that the region is "vulnerable to future impacts of climate change on global food crops."

Life and death

Even as the science of attribution improves, some experts argue that climate scientists are still understating their conclusions — an important factor as the field begins to move out of academia and into public processes like lawsuits. A related issue is that the evidence presented in court often lags behind the latest science. IN2021The Nature of Climate ChangeOtto and her colleagues examined 73 climate lawsuits worldwide and found that the evidence entered was 10 years out of date. "I think it takes a while for new science to filter into policy," Otto says, adding, "it should be faster."

The work of the WWA influenced at least one judgment. His study offorest fires 2019–2020in Australia concluded that climate change had a role in increasing the overall seasonal fire risk by a factor of nine. In 2021, an Australian court considered this result when it found that the New South Wales Environmental Protection Agency had failed to protect the environment by requiring the state to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

As extreme weather conditions become more common, keeping up becomes more difficult. Last winter more than20 peopledied as a series of powerful atmospheric river storms dumped heavy rain and snow on California. WWA chose not to study flooding, in part because demand for attribution work far exceeds capacity. "It's a small community, and funding is limited," says Michael Wehner, a climatologist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Like WWA, Wehner and his collaborator, Kevin Reed of Stony Brook University, are trying to conduct near-real-time attribution studies. They analyzed Hurricane Ian in September 2022, while the storm was still washing over Florida. Their quick work was possible partly because they had just publishedpaperon the 2020 hurricane season, finding that climate change has caused it to be 5 percent wetter. They added Ian's conditions to their previous models. "We probably could have done it faster, but Kevin went to dinner," Wehner jokes. They decided to issue a timely statement ahead of a lengthy review process, declaring it likely that climate change added 10 percent to Ian's rainfall.

(Video) IIan Kelman: 'Disasters are not natural - but don't blame climate change'

Wehner often has to turn down requests, prompting him to announce in 2022paper insidePLOS Air conditioningarguing that many attribution studies can now be considered routine and should be moved out of academia. Science has matured. "It could be operationalized," says Wehner, "as a weather forecast." Otto would welcome the change. "I really want NOAA to take this over," she says, "or Copernicus," the European Union's Earth observation program. "Not only would it allow the [scientific] community to do much more, but it would have a much more direct path into national policies."

In the US, NOAA recently started a pilot project led by David Easterling, the director of the National Climate Assessment there, to develop this type of capability. NOAA has some clear advantages: It gets real-time data from weather stations across the country and has access to climate model development at the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory at Princeton University. Easterling hopes that, given the agency's reputation as impartial, if "NOAA starts saying, 'This event is 15 percent worse because of climate change,' that will start to change a lot of attitudes" among people who are still skeptical about climate change.

As the science of attribution continues to grow, it could play an important role in helping society prepare for greater risks, including informing building codes and highlighting the need to drastically reduce emissions, says Susanne Moser, a social scientist and consultant specializing in climate adaptation. Professional engineering associations are already moving toward adaptive designs such as levees built with wider bases so they can be taller as oceans rise. She points to California and other forward-looking statesthey learnhow to incorporate climate information into their infrastructure plans, work that will be valuable in rebuilding after the recent floods in that state.

Some countries will find it easier than others to finance such comprehensive adaptations, which is why the United Nations Climate Change Conference (or COP27) in 2022.created a "loss and damage" fund.help low-income countries, whose greenhouse gas emissions are relatively small. But there is still no definition of what counts as climate-related damage, Otto says. "What kind of evidence would you need? Who provides that?" She says further attribution work will be needed to determine international liability or compensation amounts.

During a recent video call with me, Otto said that work has become increasingly stressful. "In the beginning, it wasn't so much in the public eye—it didn't feel like that much pressure," she said. In 2021Time turned her onin its annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world. Now they recognize her when she is shopping or in her dance studio.

Applying the science of attribution might not be so daunting if the discipline had begun to grow decades ago, when climate change was alreadyknown problem, says Otto. But today her work is a race against time. "People are suffering," she says, "and they can't deal with the consequences."

This article was originally published under the title "The Blame Game" in Scientific American 328, 6, 44-51 (June 2023)



When disaster strikes, is climate change to blame? (4)

(Video) Hurricane Ian: Climate change to blame for more intense storms | To The Point

    Lois Parshleyis an investigative journalist. Her climate reports can be found atTwitteriMastodon@loisparshleyCredit: Nick Higgins

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    Is climate change responsible for natural disasters? ›

    With increasing global surface temperatures the possibility of more droughts and increased intensity of storms will likely occur. As more water vapor is evaporated into the atmosphere it becomes fuel for more powerful storms to develop.

    How climate change could have disaster effect? ›

    Many of the impacts of climate change and disaster are experienced through water-related events, namely flooding, intensified storms, drought, the melting of glaciers and salination of coastal freshwater resources due to sea level rise.

    Why are natural disasters increasing due to climate change? ›

    The number and cost of weather and climate disasters is rising due to a combination of population growth and development along with the influence of human-caused climate change on some type of extreme events that lead to billion-dollar disasters. NOAA NCEI.

    What is responsible for climate change? ›

    Burning fossil fuels, cutting down forests and farming livestock are increasingly influencing the climate and the earth's temperature. This adds enormous amounts of greenhouse gases to those naturally occurring in the atmosphere, increasing the greenhouse effect and global warming.

    Are we responsible for natural disasters? ›

    Natural disasters are a naturally occurring event that causes damage to human life, but human activity can increase their frequency and intensity. Deforestation is wiping out trees, causing increased risk for flooding, soil erosion, and drought.

    Where is climate change the worst? ›

    Chad. Chad ranks as the world's most climate-vulnerable country on the Notre Dame-Global Adaptation Initiative Index, which examines a country's exposure, sensitivity and capacity to adapt to the negative effects of climate change.

    Is climate change a disaster waiting to happen? ›

    No: Based on the evidence currently available, it is premature to consider geo-engineering as a viable option for addressing climate change. The priority is, and must be, to tackle the root cause by reducing emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities and adapting to those impacts that are unavoidable.

    What is causing natural disasters? ›

    The main causes of natural disasters are tectonic shifts, lunar activities, deforestation, soil erosion, air pressure, ocean currents, pollution, global warming, mining, seismic waves, etc. Agricultural practices, mining, deforestation, etc., can lead to landslides. Plants and animals can also be damaged by wildfires.

    How does climate emergency affect us? ›

    Rising temperatures are fueling environmental degradation, natural disasters, weather extremes, food and water insecurity, economic disruption, conflict, and terrorism. Sea levels are rising, the Arctic is melting, coral reefs are dying, oceans are acidifying, and forests are burning.

    How many natural disasters happen because of climate change? ›

    About 11,000 disasters were documented between 1970 and 2019 from weather events, water hazards and climate extremes, according to the report. The disasters were responsible for 2 million deaths and $3.6 trillion in losses, the WMO estimated.

    What natural events cause climate change? ›

    The earth's climate is influenced and changed through natural causes like volcanic eruptions, ocean currents, the Earth's orbital changes, solar variations and internal variability.

    What are 5 effects of climate change? ›

    Climate change is the single biggest health threat facing humanity. Climate impacts are already harming health, through air pollution, disease, extreme weather events, forced displacement, pressures on mental health, and increased hunger and poor nutrition in places where people cannot grow or find sufficient food.

    What is the most major cause of climate change? ›

    The evidence is clear: the main cause of climate change is burning fossil fuels such as oil, gas, and coal. When burnt, fossil fuels release carbon dioxide into the air, causing the planet to heat up.

    What country is most to blame for climate change? ›

    Top 10 polluters
    • China, with more than 10,065 million tons of CO2 released.
    • United States, with 5,416 million tons of CO2.
    • India, with 2,654 million tons of CO2.
    • Russia, with 1,711 million tons of CO2.
    • Japan, 1,162 million tons of CO2.
    • Germany, 759 million tons of CO2.
    • Iran, 720 million tons of CO2.

    Who contributes most to climate change? ›

    Transportation (28% of 2021 greenhouse gas emissions) – The transportation sector generates the largest share of greenhouse gas emissions. Greenhouse gas emissions from transportation primarily come from burning fossil fuel for our cars, trucks, ships, trains, and planes.

    Who is responsible during disasters? ›

    When a disaster is declared, the Federal government, led by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), responds at the request of, and in support of, States, Tribes, Territories, and Insular Areas and local jurisdictions impacted by a disaster.

    Who is responsible for the disasters? ›

    The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), headed by the Prime Minister of India, is the apex body for Disaster Management in India.

    Who is responsible for man-made disasters? ›

    They are caused by human activity. The following are the examples: Chemical spills, hazardous material spills, explosives, chemical or biological attacks, nuclear blasts, rail accidents, airline crashes, or groundwater poisoning are all instances of man-made disasters.

    Where in the US is safest from climate change? ›

    The best cities for climate change
    • Seattle, Washington. Like San Francisco, Seattle doesn't expect to see a drastic increase in days with extreme heat or high heat and humidity. ...
    • Columbus, Ohio. ...
    • Minneapolis, Minnesota. ...
    • Baltimore, Maryland. ...
    • Portland, Oregon. ...
    • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. ...
    • Richmond, Virginia. ...
    • Houston, Texas.
    Dec 22, 2022

    Which US state is least affected by climate change? ›

    These five states are the best prepared for climate change.
    • Maine. ...
    • Wyoming. ...
    • California. ...
    • Florida. ...
    • Utah. ...
    • South Carolina. ...
    • Texas. ...
    • Methodology.
    Jul 15, 2022

    Which US state is most vulnerable to climate change? ›

    Coastal states like Florida and South Carolina are most at risk of the impacts of climate change. Extreme heat, drought, inland flooding, wildfires, and coastal flooding are some of the most devastating effects of climate change.

    What will happen if we don't fix climate change? ›

    The wildlife we love and their habitat will be destroyed, leading to mass species extinction. Superstorms, drought, and heat waves would become increasingly common and more extreme, leading to major health crises and illness. Agricultural production would plummet, likely leading to global food shortages and famine.

    Can we reverse climate change? ›

    While we cannot stop global warming overnight, we can slow the rate and limit the amount of global warming by reducing human emissions of heat-trapping gases and soot (“black carbon”).

    How quickly will climate change affect us? ›

    By 2100, the average U.S. temperature is projected to increase by about 3°F to 12°F, depending on emissions scenario and climate model. An increase in average temperatures worldwide implies more frequent and intense extreme heat events, or heat waves.

    What are the 5 man-made disasters? ›

    Man-Made Disasters
    • Boating. Boating, while it may seem inconsequential can be very damaging. ...
    • Fire. To protect yourself, it is important to understand the basic characteristics of fire. ...
    • Hazardous Materials. ...
    • Nuclear (WMD) ...
    • Nuclear (Peaceful)
    • Terrorism.

    Why does the US have so many natural disasters? ›

    The Role of Climate Change

    California wildfires and major flooding events across the U.S. can be attributed directly to climate change, Ullrich said. Factors such as greenhouse gas emissions, fossil fuel burning, nonrenewable energy contribute to these disasters.

    What is the major cause of all disasters? ›

    Disasters can be caused by natural, man-made and technological hazards, as well as various factors that influence the exposure and vulnerability of a community.

    How long until climate change is irreversible? ›

    of aggressive climate change policies is that humanity is always about 10 years away from either catastrophic climate change, or some greenhouse gas emission “tipping point” at which such change will become inevitable.

    What will climate change be like in 2030? ›

    The study, published Jan. 30 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, provides new evidence that global warming is on track to reach 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial averages in the early 2030s, regardless of how much greenhouse gas emissions rise or fall in the coming decade.

    What happens to us when climate change happens? ›

    Climate change can also impact human health by worsening air and water quality, increasing the spread of certain diseases, and altering the frequency or intensity of extreme weather events. Rising sea level threatens coastal communities and ecosystems.

    How much will climate change cost the US? ›

    Extreme weather, fueled by climate change, cost the U.S. $165 billion in 2022.

    What natural disaster kills the most? ›

    Natural disaster death totals

    The deadliest natural disaster in history was the 1931 Floods in China, killing almost four million people, depending on the source.

    Who pays for natural disasters? ›

    However, the public also picks up a large part of the tab through local and federal disaster funds, as well as homeowner insurance policies that pay for much of the rebuilding afterward.

    When did climate change become an issue? ›

    In 1988, global warming and the depletion of the ozone layer became increasingly prominent in the international public debate and political agenda.

    What is happening to Earth right now? ›

    High temperature extremes and heavy precipitation events are increasing, glaciers and snow cover are shrinking, and sea ice is retreating. Seas are warming, rising, and becoming more acidic, and flooding is become more frequent along the U.S. coastline.

    Is the sun not co2 to blame for global warming? ›

    No. The Sun can influence Earth's climate, but it isn't responsible for the warming trend we've seen over recent decades. The Sun is a giver of life; it helps keep the planet warm enough for us to survive.

    What is the greatest threat to climate change? ›

    The single greatest threat to human health from climate change will likely be the danger it poses to plants and our food security. Throughout the world, stable crops such as wheat, corn, and rice will be harmed by the combination of heat waves and drought associated with climate change.

    What are 3 dangers of climate change? ›

    More frequent and intense drought, storms, heat waves, rising sea levels, melting glaciers and warming oceans can directly harm animals, destroy the places they live, and wreak havoc on people's livelihoods and communities.

    What are 3 major consequences of climate change? ›

    The main impacts are decreases in water availability and crop yields, increasing risks of droughts and biodiversity loss, forest fires, and heat waves.

    How can we solve climate change? ›

    Start with these ten actions to help tackle the climate crisis.
    1. Save energy at home. ...
    2. Walk, bike, or take public transport. ...
    3. Eat more vegetables. ...
    4. Consider your travel. ...
    5. Throw away less food. ...
    6. Reduce, reuse, repair & recycle. ...
    7. Change your home's source of energy. ...
    8. Switch to an electric vehicle.

    How to avoid climate change? ›

    10 Ways to Stop Global Warming
    1. Change a light. Replacing one regular light bulb with a compact fluorescent light bulb will save 150 pounds of carbon dioxide a year.
    2. Drive less. ...
    3. Recycle more. ...
    4. Check your tires. ...
    5. Use less hot water. ...
    6. Avoid products with a lot of packaging. ...
    7. Adjust your thermostat. ...
    8. Plant a tree.

    What are the 3 main natural causes of climate change? ›

    These have been caused by many natural factors, including changes in the sun, emissions from volcanoes, variations in Earth's orbit and levels of carbon dioxide (CO2).

    Which country is best to avoid climate change? ›

    A paper published by the Anglia Ruskin University in the United Kingdom has identified five countries in geographical locations with “favourable starting conditions” that may allow them to be less touched by the effects of climate change: New Zealand, Iceland, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Ireland.

    Who is the biggest polluter in the world? ›

    China was the biggest emitter of carbon dioxide (CO₂) emissions in 2021, accounting for nearly 31 percent of the global emissions. The world's top five largest polluters were responsible for roughly 60 percent of global CO₂ emissions in 2021.

    Who should pay for climate change damage? ›

    The U.S. and Europe say established institutions, such as existing climate funds and the World Bank, along with the private sector, should be enlisted to pay for loss and damage.

    What country has the worst climate change per capita? ›

    Since 2006, China has been emitting more CO 2 than any other country. When looking at CO2 emissions per person, China's levels are less than half those of the United States (the next largest source of CO 2 emissions) and about one-eighth of those of Palau (the biggest CO 2 emitter per person).

    Which has been the hottest year on record? ›

    The eight warmest years on record have now occurred since 2014, the scientists, from the European Union's Copernicus Climate Change Service, reported, and 2016 remains the hottest year ever.

    Are earthquakes caused by climate change? ›

    The melting rate of glaciers has become significantly higher, causing a noticeable rise (0.19meters) in the sea level globally. Climate change can trigger catastrophes such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis and landslides due to melting glaciers and rising in sea level.

    Does climate change cause hurricanes? ›

    It's not always a simple answer. It is clear that climate change increases the upper limit on hurricane strength and rain rate and that it also raises the average sea level and therefore storm surge. The influence on the total number of hurricanes is currently uncertain, as are other aspects.

    Does climate change cause tornadoes? ›

    And new research suggests that as average temperatures rise, the sorts of intense storms that frequently spawn tornadoes are becoming more common outside parts of the Midwest known as “tornado alley.” A recent study forecast that by 2100, the average annual number of supercells — massive, rotating storms known for ...

    Why are natural disasters getting worse? ›

    They're only going to get worse in the years to come because climate change is making extreme weather events more frequent and more severe.” Some states experienced far more of an impact than others. Florida had more than 888,000 people displaced.

    Does climate change exist? ›

    Climate change has always happened on Earth, which is clearly seen in the geological record; it is the rapid rate and the magnitude of climate change occurring now that is of great concern worldwide. Greenhouse gases in the atmosphere absorb heat radiation.

    Does climate change cause floods? ›

    The intensity of extreme drought and rainfall has “sharply” increased over the past 20 years, according to a study published Monday in the journal Nature Water.

    Are tsunamis caused by climate change? ›

    Though not related to climate, tsunamis have the potential to cause widespread destruction in coastal communities.

    Is the climate crisis making storms more powerful? ›

    REBECCA HERSHER, BYLINE: Climate change is making hurricanes more intense, which means more powerful wind, more rain and more flooding from storm surge. The new study finds that climate change also makes it more likely that two storms will hit in quick succession, which is bad news for coastal communities.

    How climate change makes storms worse? ›

    As our climate warms, we're experiencing stronger winds, higher storm surges and record rainfalls during hurricane season — which is also why these storms are becoming more destructive and costly.

    Why are storms getting worse? ›

    Climate change makes hurricanes more dangerous Climate change is making flooding and wind damage from hurricanes more common in the U.S. That means dangerous storms are getting more frequent, even though the total number of storms isn't changing.

    Why are tornadoes getting stronger? ›

    As global temperatures rise, the hotter atmosphere is able to hold more moisture. This increases atmospheric instability, a vital supercell ingredient.

    What was the most impactful tornado ever recorded? ›

    The most "extreme" tornado in recorded history was the Tri-State tornado, which spread through parts of Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana on March 18, 1925. It is considered an F5 on the Fujita Scale, even though tornadoes were not ranked on any scale at the time.

    Why are we having so many tornadoes this year? ›

    That's the result of the clash between winter and spring weather patterns, with a still-strong jet stream and warmer air moving northward. Recent Marches have been especially active, the Weather Channel notes: There were 236 recorded tornadoes in March 2022, the most in that month since 1950.


    1. Is Climate Change To Blame For Raging Wildfires And Active Atlantic? | Sunday TODAY
    2. Climate change & social factors blamed for global heatwaves, study finds
    (Al Jazeera English)
    3. Humans are to blame for wildfires getting worse - not just by climate change
    (The Telegraph)
    4. California Drought: Is Climate Change To Blame? | Video
    5. Is Climate Crisis To Blame For Deadly Tornadoes? | The Mehdi Hasan Show
    6. Climate change blamed for surge India lightning strike deaths
    (FRANCE 24 English)


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