Climate change is here and for real: Here are some disasters that have taken place in recent times

February 21, 2021 3:15 AM

Climate change is here and for real. The year 2020, in fact, saw many instances of climate change-related disasters that resulted in loss of lives, property, as well as destruction of nature.

An example of the most recent climate change disaster is the Uttarakhand floods of 2021 in Nanda Devi National Park, a Unesco World Heritage site. It is believed to have been caused by a landslide or a glacier burst at Nanda Devi.An example of the most recent climate change disaster is the Uttarakhand floods of 2021 in Nanda Devi National Park, a Unesco World Heritage site. It is believed to have been caused by a landslide or a glacier burst at Nanda Devi.

By Reya Mehrotra

California wildfires
A combination of causes like increased warming due to climate change, wind conditions and years of fire suppression led to the California wildfires of 2020. By the end of the year, approximately 9,639 fires had burnt 43,97,809 acres of forest area, making 2020 the largest wildfire season in California’s modern history. Started again by lightning strikes in August last year, California’s August Complex fire was described as the first ‘gigafire’ that burnt over one million acres over seven counties.

Uttarakhand floods
An example of the most recent climate change disaster is the Uttarakhand floods of 2021 in Nanda Devi National Park, a Unesco World Heritage site. It is believed to have been caused by a landslide or a glacier burst at Nanda Devi. The result was the flooding of Chamoli district, though the water receded after a few hours. At least 36 people were reported dead, while 170 are still missing. The Rishiganga power project on the Rishiganga river was completely damaged, while the labourers working at the site went missing. The bridge that connected 13 villages in the Tapovan area was washed away too.

Typhoon Vamco
Also called Typhoon Ulysses, it was a deadly Category 4 typhoon that affected Philippines and Vietnam. The typhoon also caused the worst floods since 2009 in the Metro Manila and Ketsana regions. It was the 10th typhoon and 22nd named storm of the 2020 Pacific Typhoon Season. It is said to have originated in Palau and made its landfall in Quezon. It turned out to be the sixth costliest Philippine tycoon, causing considerable damage. Before Typhoon Vamco, Philippines witnessed three other cyclones: Molave, Goni and Tropical Storm Etau.

China floods
In June 2020, heavy seasonal rains in China resulted in large-scale flooding, affecting parts of southern China. Described as the worst since 1998, the floods gradually spread to eastern and central China by July. By August, it was declared that the floods had affected 63.46 million people and caused great economic loss. Around 54,000 houses collapsed, while 2019 people were found dead or missing. Not only this, 76 important national cultural relics and 187 provincial cultural heritage sites were damaged during the floods. Experts believe that climate change was to be blamed partly for the disaster and the future holds more such events. The primary cause of the floods was described as rains.

Cyclone Amphan
Climate change is said to increase the damage caused by cyclones, for instance, increasing sea surface temperature that may further strengthen the cyclone, increasing rainfall intensity, and rise in sea levels and so on. Catastrophic tropical cyclone Amphan wreaked havoc in West Bengal, Odisha and Bangladesh in May 2020. The cyclone is said to have caused at least $13 billion worth of damage, making it the costliest cyclone ever in the North Indian ocean. Approximately 118 people lost lives during the cyclone. It was the fourth super cyclone and the strongest one to hit West Bengal since 1582. PM Modi announced a $10-billion relief package for West Bengal and $5 billion for Odisha.

African locust infestation
The pest outbreak of desert locusts from 2019 to 2021 has become a threat to food supply across East Africa, Arabian Peninsula and the Indian subcontinent. Though the locust population has been steadily declining, it is said to be the worst outbreak in 70 years in Kenya. The plague began in June 2019. Travel restrictions imposed due to the pandemic led to hampered transpor-tation of pesticides and other equipment in fighting the locust attack. Locust population thrives when periods of heavy rainfall are followed by periods of drought. The desert locusts continue to threaten the countries around Southern Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.

Australian bushfires
The Bushfire Season of Australia between 2019 and 2020 came to be known as the Black Summer. The period was marked by unusually intense bushfires across parts of Australia. From September 2019 to March 2020, the fires heavily impacted various parts of New South Wales. The fires were extinguished in New South Wales completely by March 4, 2020. But by March, the fires had burnt an approximate area of 18.6 million hectares, damaged over 5,900 buildings and killed at least 34 people. Some endangered species were believed to have been driven towards extinction, while billions of terrestrial vertebrates were affected. While at its peak, the air quality in the southern and eastern states dropped to hazardous levels.

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