Living in ‘the latest Hollywood global disaster movie’
U.S. Army photoSave your $10 and skip the movie theater this summer. “The litany of weather incidents during the summer of 2010 reads like the latest Hollywood global disaster movie,” Nathanial Gronewold writes at Climatewire:
The hottest summer ever recorded in 130 years has sparked thousands of wildfires in Russia, burning some entire villages to the ground, killing 53 and leaving 3,500 homeless, according to Russian state media. Cooler temperatures are finally bringing some relief, shrinking the extent of the flames from more than 100,000 acres down to about 54,000 acres.
Next to Pakistan, record rainfall and subsequent flooding and mudslides in western China are estimated to have left roughly 1,200 dead and scores more homeless. China’s government has been handling that crisis on its own and has yet to appeal for international support.
Russia’s drought has reduced its wheat crop by 20 percent, and droughts in Canada are anticipated to reduce the crop there by an equal proportion. Though the Food and Agriculture Organization says the United States alone has enough grain in storage to meet the gap, the U.S. Department of Agriculture put out a warning last week that reduced yields from droughts in Europe and Africa have lowered food stores to levels close to those seen just before the onset of the 2007 food crisis in the developing world.
Less reported, on Aug. 5, a sensor on a NASA satellite recorded a massive chunk of ice breaking off a glacier in Greenland. The huge block measures more than 77 square miles in size and is one of the largest calving incidents witnessed in the Northern Hemisphere.
That recap comes at the end of a sobering story about Pakistan’s floods, which “will join the ranks of the worst natural disasters in recorded history,” according to Gronewold. Extreme rain — which is expected to continue — and deforestation have combined to flood one fifth of the country, leaving millions homeless.
Climatologists are increasingly willing to connect the frequency of these disasters to a warming climate:
Most experts are still cautioning against tying any specific event directly to emissions of greenhouse gases. But scientists at the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in Geneva say there’s no doubt that higher Atlantic Ocean temperatures contributed to the disaster begun late last month.
Atmospheric anomalies that led to the floods are also directly related to the same weather phenomena that a caused the record heat wave in Russia and flooding and mudslides in western China, said Ghassem Asrar, director of the World Climate Research Programme and WMO. And if the forecasts by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) are correct, then Pakistan’s misery is just a sign of more to come, said Asrar.
“There’s no doubt that clearly the climate change is contributing, a major contributing factor,” Asrar said in an interview.
The American Red Cross and International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies are both asking for donations for relief to displaced Pakistanis.