Extreme weather including floods, storms, droughts and wildfires struck every inhabited continent in the past year, causing devastation and loss of life. Christian Aid, which tracked climate-related destruction in 2019, said the costs in human terms and insured losses were likely to have been underestimated. Experts said the extreme weather and record-breaking temperatures were clearly linked to human actions.
Climate breakdown played a key role in at least 15 events in 2019 that cost more than $1bn (£760m) in damage, with more than half of those costing more than $10bn each. [how capitalism loves to place a price on every human tragedy]
Floods in Argentina and Uruguay in January this year forced 11,000 people from their homes. Cyclone Idai killed 1,300 people in Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Malawi in March, and Cyclone Fani struck India and Bangladesh in May and June. A stronger than usual monsoon killed 1,900 people in India.
Storm Eberhard hitting Europe in March and the typhoons Faxai and Hagibis battering Japan in September and October, disrupting the Rugby World Cup. Wildfires laid waste to farming areas in California and caused more than $25bn in damage,(the study published on Friday was compiled before the full effects of the Australian wildfires could be assessed. Hurricane Dorian swept along the US east coast, killing 673 people.
Kat Kramer, a co-author of the report and the global climate lead at Christian Aid said time was running out to tackle the climate crisis.
“Last year, [greenhouse gas] emissions continued to rise, so it’s essential that nations prepare new and enhanced pledges for action to [fulfil] the Paris agreement as soon as possible,” she said. “That will ensure the world responds urgently to the warnings of scientists, as well as the demands from schoolchildren around the globe who are horrified at the kind of world they are being forced to inherit.”
Michael Mann, the director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University, said: “If anything, 2019 saw even more profound extreme weather events around the world than last year, including wildfires from the Amazon to the Arctic, and devastating out-of-season simultaneous wildfires in California and Australia, winter heatwaves and devastating superstorms. With each day now, we are seemingly reminded of the cost of climate inaction in the form of ever-threatening climate change-spiked weather extremes.”