Climate change is getting more hazardous each passing year with its repercussions posing a threat to not just humans but all kinds of life on Earth. This year was no different as several countries across the world saw extreme weather conditions.
From India's delayed monsoon withdrawal to Brazil's current drought situation, unchecked climate change can lead to unthinkable damage to this planet.
What is climate change?
United Nations describes climate change as long-term shifts in temperatures and weather patterns. These shifts may be natural, such as through variations in the solar cycle or man-made due to human activities such as burning fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas.
Burning fossil fuels generates greenhouse gas emissions that act like a blanket wrapped around the Earth, trapping the sun’s heat and raising temperatures.
Here is a list of countries that are currently facing extreme weather changes due to global warming.
Delhi's unusual October rains
Beginning with our own country, Delhi witnessed monsoon till as late as October this year. The rainfall recorded in the national capital stood at 128.2 mm. This is the highest rainfall that the country has recorded in the month of October since 1956. Many experts consider global warming to be the reason behind the unusual change in weather.
Meanwhile, the 128.2 mm of rain that the city received is also the fourth-highest amount of rain the city has ever seen in October. This month last year, the national capital received 122.5 mm of rainfall. October 2020, 2018, and 2017 saw no rain in the city, while October 2019 saw 47.3 mm of rainfall.
The change in Delhi's weather system had impacted some neighbuoring states, namely, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Rajasthan.
Floods ravage everyday life in Pakistan
Pakistan was also gripped by the woes of climate change. Many regions across the cash-strapped nation saw extreme rainfall which led to the river Indus destroying its banks and leading to flash floods. The Sindh province remained the worst-hit region followed by Balochistan.
33 million people were affected while more than 1500 fatalities were recorded due to the ravaging floods that began in June and went on till September. Close to 2 million homes were damaged or washed away by the floods. Many experts say that the flooding was made worse by climate change.
Pakistan is currently facing the risk of waterborne diseases due to the destruction of its health facilities, lack of sanitation facilities, limited access to safe drinking water, low medicine stocks to name a few. Malnutrition is another headache of the nation with the United Nations suggesting 7 million women and children are without any access to food.
UK swelters under extreme heat waves
The United Kingdom witnessed three heat waves this year with temperatures soaring as high as 40°C. This is highly unusual for a nation known for rain and mild temperatures. The UK generally records an average temperature between 12°C to 20°C in the summer season.
As the nation watched with a combination of horror and fascination, Met Office chief scientist Stephen Belcher said such temperatures in Britain were 'virtually impossible' without human-driven climate change. He warned that temperatures like this can be seen occurring 'every three years' if no serious action is taken to control carbon emissions.
The intense heat damaged the runway at London’s Luton airport, forcing it to shut down for several hours. Police said that the main road in eastern England had been distorted, leaving it looking like a 'skatepark'.
Floods bring Australia to a standstill
Australia, normally facing wildfire threats this time of the year, is currently reeling under the impact of floods. Around 34,000 homes could be isolated in Victoria state as flood emergency continues across parts of Australia’s southeast, an official said.
Victoria is the worst-affected state with some towns experiencing the highest river peaks in decades. The states of New South Wales and Tasmania were also experiencing flooding in an emergency that began last week.
Experts have linked this extreme change in weather conditions to two factors - global warming and the La Niña weather pattern. Other climate drivers, including a positive Southern Annular Mode and negative Indian Ocean Dipole, have also aligned to bring above-average rainfall to eastern Australia.
“It’s quite likely we’ll see a flood peak happen and waters recede, followed by another peak, as different river systems come together,” Federal Emergency Management Minister Murray Watt told Australian Broadcasting Corp.
Brazil's Amazon faces severe drought
The Brazilian Amazon, that until a few months ago was dealing with deadly floods, is now battling a severe drought. Some areas are said to be facing the worst drought in decades.
The less-than-usual rainfall during August and September in the region led to extremely low river water levels. Many waterways, such as lakes and creeks, have dried up, eliminating access to the Amazon River and thus to nearby cities, which function as commercial hubs.
In the Sao Estevao community, the fishermen have postponed fishing pirarucu, the Amazon’s largest fish, because the boat to transport their catch to the city cannot dock. The legal fishing season runs until the end of November. If the water level doesn’t rise soon, the seven-family community will lose a significant source of income, fisherman Pedro Canizio da Silva said to the Associated Press.
Finally, it is up to the world leaders in the government as well as the private sector along with the diverse communities around the nation who can make policies and implement them to address the deeply disturbing issue of climate change.
(With inputs from AP)