2017 recorded as the most active hurricane season

Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005 and caused an estimated damage of $211 billion. The four hurricanes this year –Harvey, Irma, Jose and Maria – have already put the estimated destruction at $200 billion, and it is not the peak of the hurricane season yet.

The hurricane season still has two months to go and four more Category 4 storms are expected. According to the National Hurricane Center data, September 2017 has been the most active hurricane season, with the cyclone-energy index at 155.4, which is 0.4 higher than September 2004.

In a given year, normally 12 tropical storms are known to form in the Atlantic. However, the weather data shows abnormal activity taking place this year as there have been 13 tropical storms by now. Four of these have been major hurricanes, greater than Category 3 and have caused landslides along with structural damage costing billions.
The US National Hurricane Center data tracked hurricane damage since 1900, putting 2017 second to 2005 in the most expensive damage and it is not even the peak yet. The hurricane season ends on November 30; therefore, the full cost of the major hurricanes this year is yet to be estimated since more hurricanes are on the way through the Atlantic, one expected to be major.

The data may have incomplete information because the authorities are still unable to reach the areas with deep floods, strong winds and enormous piles of debris. Despite improvements in weather forecasting, this season has proved to be deadlier. In 1900’s, around 12,000 people had perished due to inaccuracies in forecasts and feeble warnings, damaging $104 billion worth infrastructure.

The US has experienced the deadliest hurricanes this decade, the deadliest being since 2005. Back in 1928, Lake Okeechobee in Florida overflowed due to Category 4 hurricane, causing 15-feet floods and leaving 2,500 dead. Hurricane San Felipe took 2,748 lives in 1928 in Puerto Rico and Florida.

This year, Irma has reported to have been the most powerful, Category 5 hurricane with winds at 295 kph, devastating the northern parts of Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, compared to 185 mph winds of Florida Key storm in 1935; 190 mph of hurricane Allen in 1980 and Wilma in 2005.

The ocean water needs to be warm enough to cause a hurricane; an after-effect of global warming, Irma was a degree warmer than average of 25 degrees Celsius.
The 2017 hurricane season is recorded as the strongest in 139 years of US history. The unusual changes in Atlantic Ocean would bring more hurricanes, therefore; making 2017 the most expensive in infrastructural damage. The poor concrete in several states is not able to withhold the strong winds and power is many areas may remain out for more than a month.

This season has, however, been less deadly because of advancements in meteorological equipment, mainstream media and social media expansion. The people were warned just in time resulting in an evacuation of 7 million people – the largest in US mass migration history and crises. With improved satellites, there has been more observation of hurricanes than what was possible, let’s say, a century ago.    

Nonetheless, the full extent of the damage is yet to be discovered.

Climate Change Challenges Australia’s Ski Industry

As the warming climate is significantly reducing the cover, depth and duration of snow, ski resorts in Australia are facing the prospect of downhill run as a result. Australia may not be renowned for its winter season but the country does have big snow industry, and not to mention, a unique mountainous environment that is now facing big risk due to climate change.

According to the CSIRO – Bureau of Meteorology report;

The snow retreat is being observed for almost half a century, with frequent rising temperatures instead of reducing precipitation as a factor to blame.

 

Snow is considered as a threshold variable

With this climate change, even the slightest rise in temperature is likely to turn snowflakes into severe rain conditions that, would rather wash away than adding to the snow cover, and which is why all other climate projections too, points in only one direction – says Researcher Tom Remenyi at the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystem Cooperative Research Centre.

He also said that such a condition can be termed as both terrifying and encouraging for Australia as the observations match models and making researchers more confident about their bleak and timely predictions.

 

The step change for Australia’s ski industry

The major concern for the ski industry in Australia is that, at some point, there will not be that much snow anymore and that will be a step change for the industry. As per the model, this paradigm shift is likely to happen in the next 20 years.

The big dumps will continue happening but follow up rains and warmer air means that the snow ‘probably won’t stick around’. The projected trends are for south-eastern Australia in terms of declining rainfall with a rise in extreme events – says Sonya Fiddes, researcher at Australian German Climate and Energy College – Melbourne

By the end of century, the models actually point to almost 20% drop in precipitation. While the other seasons may see a decline, Alpine summers are likely to experience more rainfall and in some fewer yet larger events. The Victorian government, however, is preparing a detailed report considering the alpine communalities’ future and also the ski industry in Australia, later this year.

 

The future of Ski industry in Australia

The $1.5 billion ski industry of Australia has been recognized for long but if there is no snow, the industry will have no business. Already adapting to climate change to run business, the popular ‘Mt Buller’ resort in Victoria has now managed to increase operational days to 106 in the typical year from 100 in the year 1970, even in the situation of less snow.

This diversification has also affected the snow tourist and many of them are now heading to Australian mountains just to witness the snow-capped mountains rather than snowboard or skiing. The effects of climate change are being faced by many industries all over the world, resort industries consider these climate change as one of the most faced challenges by almost every country, every person and every business now. Nevertheless, climate change aims at zero environmental footprints by the year 2030.

Disappearing Glaciers – Mt Kenya Face Violence over Dried-Up River

There are many people in Mt Kenya who solely rely on the water that comes to the river from mountains. But with the problem of climate change and its drastic results, glaciers are gradually disappearing faster than previously observed, causing the rivers to dry up and resulting in violence over water.

A lot of people at Mt Kenya rely on these streams to irrigate their land and feed their animals. The glaciers that are located near the summit give out many streams, big and small, that further feed into rivers and supporting the lives of those residing around the mountain.

Now, the scenario is different and causing people to turn against each other. As per the Isaac Kalua – Chairman and Environmentalist of Kenya’s Water Tower Management Authority;

“The ice is melting away. The rivers flowing from the glaciers are not as full as they used to be. Some have dried up. And this is causing conflict downhill. When the melting starts, rivers first experience high flows because of the melting ice. But this subsequently reduces because the glaciers never really recover like they did before climate change became a reality. Because of this, there is less and less water in the rivers in the years that follow.”

 

Some statistics about melting glaciers in Mt Kenya

According to an estimate by the United Nations Environment Programme, there were a total of 18 glaciers which covered the summit till the last century, but out of these 18 only 10 remain.

Moreover, since 1934, the largest glacier – Lewis Glacier on Mt Kenya, has drastically decreased by almost 90% in its volume. This also makes it the highest rate of loss of ice volume that occurred around the century’s turn.

Like many other countries, Kenya too, is highly defenseless to the drastic consequences of climate change. The main reason for this is its exposure to rising temperatures, variability of rainfall and its dependence on farming.

 

 

Prevalent violence among the people

Since people and their animals do not have anything to eat, people are becoming hostile. Even in early March, some herders killed Tristan Voorspuy, an ex-British army officer as he was engaged in the inspection of a  lodge that was burnt in a 24000-acre expensive ranch.

Similarly, a diverse herder group shot conservationist and renowned author Kuki Gallmann in a ranch.

Due to disappearing glaciers and a shortage of water and agriculture, the region has been facing massive invasions, vandalism by herders and violent behavior that not only drove away many tourists, but also makes investors steer clear of the region causing another problem of unemployment and the loss of jobs.

The future of those further downhill looks bleak,” says Francis Karin, expert of food security and climate change.

This increasing violence and melting glaciers are only making things worse for the communities living around the mountains and we can only hope for the better.

No Action on Climate Change is Turning Cities into Sweltering Hotspots

West Harlem in Manhattan is a mix of aging infrastructure, poverty and lack of services which has made the area and its inhabitants vulnerable. Now, disruptive climate change is putting even more stress on the almost 110000 people who call the area home.

The biggest threat of climate change is extreme temperatures. We know that carbon emissions aggravate planetary heat, and we can clearly see the impact manifesting itself in the form of extremely hot days which are becoming increasingly common.

 
 
 
 
 

Some intriguing facts of climate analysis report

If we look at different cities in the United States, over the past 20 years, New York faced on average three days with the temperature above 95 degrees F. However, if carbon pollution continues to disrupt climate, this number is expected to rise up to 31 by the end of 2075 – as per the new climate central analysis.

A far worse off effect would be for Myriad cities all across the country. Boise and Atlanta are expected to see 80 and 69 days above the temperature of 95 F, whereas Dallas is expected to have almost 140 days of temperatures above 95 degrees F.

Phoenix, on the other hand, is taking the lead and their residents may need to make necessary arrangements to deal with over half year above the temperature of 95 degrees F – 163 days of extreme temperature.

Similarly, if we look at the temperature of the cities of other countries, Wellington is likely to become much hotter than the Northland. It is expected that the climate will reach close to that of Sydney’s especially in the absence of any adequate action towards climate change, the latest prediction of Niwa suggests.

Wairarapa region is expected to be hit badly, with increased droughts and agriculture being scorched by extreme temperatures. For now, there are at least 24 days per year in which the temperature is higher than 25 degrees Celsius, however, the number is expected to skyrocket to at least 94 days each year.

With that, the extreme moisture held by warmer atmosphere will result in intense rainfall. Petone – the coastal area of Wellington – is likely to observe a rise in sea level along with storms, inundation and coastal erosion.

With the facts before us, it is fair to say that extreme climate will become a prominent issue in the 2100s. Climate change has already started affecting people in several ways and the worse is yet to come.

Despite of the diversification and technological advancements, there seems to be hardly any way out of the problem. It will take a lot more than cutting out carbon pollution and low usage of air conditioning to expect a safe, surviving and habitable climate around the world in the future.

Several countries are not executing climate programs yet as they focus on majorly affected cities and hope to mitigate the heat stress. Countries are still required to devise a massive plan to in order to protect lives in the face of climate change, and improve the services and infrastructure which communities are relying on for now.

Water Scarcity has Hit Farmers in India’s Cauvery Delta

Deeper wells being dug by farmers to fight the unending drought

Rice farmer, Dakshinamoorthy, who used to grow crops over three acres of fields in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu, has to dig deeper and deeper for his tub-well to tap into the groundwater in the soil. According to him, the underground water table has dropped below 300 feet, which is nearly double a few years ago.

The water situation in the Cauvery delta region is challenging the area’s economic base which revolves around rice crop.

 

Cauvery Delta feeling the heat of changing Monsoon patterns

As western Rajasthan and the state of Gujarat are experiencing heavy rains and floods in July, inhabitants of Cauvery delta are wishing and praying for a Monsoon with enough rainfall to get sufficient water for their crops.

However, rain patterns in June and July were not very reassuring because the state of Tamil Nadu has received 31% less rain than normal. People are fearful that the drought will extend if the same situation persists in the coming days.

Like Dakshinamoorthy, 85% of the farmers of the state own less than 2 hectares of land. In the previous year, due to the shortage of water, crops of many farmers failed to grow optimally. Cattle-keeping is another important source for farmers to make their ends meet. But with the shortage of even drinking water for humans, keeping cattle has become an uphill battle.

Due to the piling up of issues, Dakshinamoorthy and many others like him are contemplating moving out of the state. Many have already migrated.

 

Water Crisis: Driving farmers over the edge

From November 2016 to May 2017, more than 200 farmers have either died of sudden heart attack or ended their lives. Every death has a distressing story behind it.

For instance, there is a village named Anaikudy along the river Kollidam that has become devoid of water.

There, a small-time farmer committed suicide due to his mounting debts. His attempts to dig well ended in futility and pushed him to end his life.

 

Anthropogenic and climatic factors have hit the Cauvery River badly

S Ranganathan, a farmer and general secretary of the Cauvery Delta Farmers says, “The crisis goes beyond the drought. The backbone of delta prosperity is under threat, and it’s scary.”

The cauvery River supplies water to five main tributaries and hundreds of canals and channels and many of them have run dry because of water scarcity. V Deivasihamani, a retired irrigation engineer with 40 years of experience working in the delta region thinks that climate and anthropogenic factors have led to this situation.

According to the study conducted by Madras Institute of Development Studies (MIDS), 20% of farming land in the Cauvery delta has become uncultivable in 40 years due to climate changes and anthropogenic reasons.

A recent example of climate change adversity can be seen in the previous year when farmers of Tamil Nadu couldn’t even grow one crop because of the rain shortfall of more than 60% that year. 3.5 million hectares of land suffered from the resulting draught.

Australia’s Southern Warming Hits – 100+ Marine Species Will Disappear This Century

Ocean heatwave in Australia’s south is bringing many species to the verge of extinction. Some of the affected include those living in underwater jungles as early as the end of this century.

Kelp forests may grow as much as 45m tall,  and scientists believe and have informed senators that the forests may not survive the next century if it continues warming at this current rate. Seaweeds, giant, and fish, invertebrates, kelp jungles are just some of those hundreds of species that are facing the danger of extinction due to warming waters near Tasmania.

“I mentioned that there were 100 or more species in general of kelps and endemic fishes and things that will probably disappear over the coming century, certainly by the turn of the next century under the current bottom end of predictions of climate change,” told Neville Barrett, a fellow of research at Hobart – Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies, to Communications and Environment References Committee and Climate Home after making his appearance.

He also added that; “There’s a whole lot of species on the southern end of Australia that are as far south as they can currently go and some of them are already pushed to their upper thermal limit, as far as summer temperatures will go. Beyond Tasmania, there is no major landmass until Antarctica, meaning many species have “nowhere else to go”

One of such species Macrocystis pyrifera, which the Climate Home reported were lost from the east coast of Tasmania in the year 2016.

More evidence was given by Mick Baron, a Dive tour operator, to the Climate Home with regards to the loss of the forests. Being an explorer and diver of the underwater ecosystem for 40 years, Baron stated that his business cannot survive the impact.

In comparison to the global average, the east coast of Tasmania is warming at a rate of three times faster. This is because there is a disturbance in the current of East Australia, which is transporting warm water right from the north down the east coast of Tasmania.

 

The Committee Chair shows concern over the given evidence

Peter Whish-Wilson, chair committee, and Greens senator accepted that the provided evidence is far more confronting than was expected at first. He says,

“All the while climate change continues to impact negatively on our daily lives, if we don’t cut emissions faster than we are doing now then the ocean ecosystems that we rely upon for food and jobs will continue to suffer. Tasmania’s waters are the canary in the coal mine because subtropical warm waters are being pushed south into sub-Antarctic cold waters, but if we keep going as we are then everywhere will be worse off.”

Evidence was given by Austral Fisheries. The submission was delivered by David Carter, CEO, the group stated that the observed changes in the underwater environment, due to the drastic climate change, has always been a critical priority for our business if not the highest one.

With all the other efforts and consideration that are being taken up to protect the underwater forest and a great many species, Austral Fisheries expects a well-funded and scientist tracking of this climate change, around Australia’s oceans.

African Countries Warned to Prepare for the Rise of Extreme El Niño Events

Early warning systems and funds are immediately needed to avoid the trouble of 2015/2016 famine in the future

El Niño is a weather phenomenon that begins in the Pacific and has adverse and unforeseen effects throughout the world. If we talk of current times, then it has played parts in the recent droughts in Africa especially in the east and southern part of the continent. According to a study published in the Natural Climate Change, the 1.5 degree Celsius increase in the temperature of the Earth due to global warming is going to increase the number of adverse El Niño events by 100%.

 

Even Paris Agreement can’t limit the effects of global warming

The ambitious goal of Paris Agreement is to stabilize the current rise of temperature. Even if this feat is achieved, we will still for the next 100 years experience El Niños more often. Climate specialists are advising African countries to prepare themselves for more famines and floods as a consequence.

 

Early warning system and action funds are the need of time

Richard Ewbank, a global climate expert says that these preparations should include an early warning system to forecast for at least a year in advance, along with early action funds to tackle the impending disasters.

Due to the extremes of weather resulting into droughts and floods, regular crop failures might turn into a full scale crisis. According to him, it will require “a much more expensive humanitarian response”. He urges the international community to help and assist African countries in this regard. “The main call would be for the international climate funds such as the Green Climate Fund to take the initiative here”, he adds.

 

Climate studies and forecasts can help in tackling the consequences of El Niño

The Intergovernmental Authority on Development Climate Prediction and Applications Centre (ICPAC) has advised African countries to consider all the environment related studies and forecasts serious and critical for tackling the events of El Niño.

According to Philip Omondi, a climate information expert at ICPAC, predictions of El Niño even six months in advance are not being utilized by the authorities to prepare themselves adequately.

“Predictions by scientists have been accurate in the past few years but in Africa there is a lack of goodwill by decision makers to take early action,” Omandi told in an interview.

 

Africa is still reeling from the events of previous El Niño events

There is a reason why all the climate experts are urging African governments to prepare for future El Niños. Due to severe aftermath of El Niño events in 2015 and 2016, more than 36 million Africans were affected and the continent is still recovering from its impact.

According to experts, each region of the continent faces a different problem when confronted by an El Niño. For instance, Southern Africa faces drought, while East Africa experiences floods. The opposite of El Niño, La Niña can also aggravate the problem of global warming with a whole new set of consequences in the coming years.

If not controlled, Global Warming will impact two-thirds of European Population by 2100

According to a recent study, 2 out of 3 people living in Europe will be affected by weather disasters

A research study published in The Lancet Planetary Health has warned that if global warming persists at the current rate, then deaths in Europe due to weather extremities can increase exponentially by the end of this century. The recently estimated death rate of 3000 can climb up fifty-fold by 2100.

According to the research, southern Europe is going to bear the brunt of the situation where deaths from climate adversities are projected to increase from 11 per million people per year to around 700 per million people per year.

Almost 99% of the weather-related deaths in the future will be caused by heat waves. Researchers have used a 30-year stretch ‘reference period’ from 1981 to 2010 for weather and climate-related events in 31 European countries. They used all this data for comparison with future projections of population increase, migration, as well as with forecasts of heat waves, cold spells, wildfires, floods, droughts and windstorms.

The projected figure converts to about 351 million people affected every year by weather-related disasters as compared to 25 million people per year in the reference period. According to the authors of the research, being affected by the weather implies things such as diseases, injuries, and deaths, losing home to an extreme weather event or ‘post-event’ stress.

According to the research, deaths from heatwaves are estimated to increase by 5400%, deaths due to coastal flood by 3780%, wildfires by 138%, wind storms by 20%, and river floods by 54%. However, deaths from cold spells will be cut by 98%, but they will not be able to compensate for the increased death rates caused by other weather-related disasters. These projections are calculated by considering that the earth will be 3 degree Celsius hotter by 2100 due to greenhouse gas emissions.

 

The projections might be overstated

There is no doubt that weather extremities will bring adverse effects all around the world, however, the projected data of this research might be an overstatement. Jae Young Lee and Ho Kim of the Seoul National University are of the opinion that these projections are overstating the scenario. Human adaptability has become more robust in recent times. With better air conditioning, thermal insulation technologies and medical innovations, people have become less vulnerable to extreme weather conditions.

The research also doesn’t account for the implications of Paris Climate Accord in it. Paris Agreement, with 195 signatory countries, is seeking to limit global warming under 2 degree Celsius.

 

Miscellaneous studies pointing towards the same threat

A study in the Science Advances journal indicates that South Asia, that has one-fifth of the global population, can experience unbearable rise in humid heat by the end of this century.

Another research study tells us that the rising carbon dioxide levels will reduce the content of proteins in largely consumed crops like rice and wheat in a few decades.

Regardless of the percentage of their accuracy, all scientific research works are pointing towards the bleak world future if global warming, due to greenhouse emissions, continues to increase.

Climate Crises Are Giving Rise to Food Crises

During the 2010 summers, Russia struggled through a severe drought. The series of wildfires and heat waves that destroyed almost one-third of the wheat harvest of the country.

This food crisis in Russia affected the two major regions and importers of the wheat, North Africa, and Middle East. Both of these regions are among those which are better being called food-insecure. They heavily rely on the imports of grain right from the Black Sea, majorly Russia, being the largest exporter of wheat in the world.

However, Russian government immediately banned the exports of grain, in the middle of the crisis, to save its own supply of food.

This caused the countries of the Middle East and North Africa to face skyrocket bread prices. And as some other factors also gave rise to the political unrest in these countries, the increasing food cost aggravated the discontent and further prompted many attempts, to put an end, to illiberal regimes – some suppressed violently and others successful.

 

Climate change is worsening the food scenario

Climate change and its drastic consequences are being faced worldwide. While we cannot connect a particular event of weather with the climate change, some models suggest that the climate shift is increasing the possibility of such events, even more.

For instance, the United States could face another round of episodes like the one previously observed in the year 2012. The consequences of Isaac hurricane not only barge traffic on various parts associated with Mississippi river but also closed ports.

Similarly, another heavy-hitter – Brazil— accounts for almost 17% of global maize, wheat, soybean and rice exports. But due to extreme rainfall, it’s road networks have started crumbling.

Imagine facing the crumbling of main transport route, along with the Russian drought and US flood. The world would end up facing a global shortage of food, political instability and riots, starvation in regions that are the main importers and severe recession at other places.

 

The underinvestment in worldwide infrastructure

To worsen the matter, the chronic reduction of investment in terms of infrastructure has also destabilized the critical networks. The rising trade flow and extreme weather put them at failing risk. As the McKinsey Global Institute presented deficit in terms of world’s infrastructure investment, the expected gap between the funds needed and funds available, stands at 250 billion US dollars/year by 2040.

But even if we consider the countries with infrastructure investment, they often fail to factor the risks attached to climate change. As per the survey conducted by the Organization for Development and Economic Cooperation in the year 2016 – the climate change is overlooked in the majority of these countries – even in the rich ones – except for a few exceptions.

 

What needs to be done?

Countries need to take adequate measures to diversify the production and to avoid relying on a handful of crops or major exporters. Funding should facilitate alternate sources and build various routes worldwide along with the infrastructure that is climate-resilient.

Nonetheless, all of these long-terms plans must be taken up immediately before we get hit by another consequence of climate change and ultimately global food crisis.

Climate Change is Turning Several Parts of Asia as Unlivable by the Year 2100

In the near future, several parts of Asia, especially South Asia are facing potential threat of lethal heat and extreme humidity if the carbon emissions are not timely curtailed. These fatal consequences are likely to affect almost 1.5 billion people in Asia.

As per a new research, the one-fifth of the world’s population lives in South Asia and they will be facing the heat waves that will, without protection, put their survival in danger. Thanks to global warming.

The most and hardest affected areas due to this extreme temperature are likely to be Bangladesh, northern India and southern Pakistan – also the poorest parts of South Asia. Moreover, most of the residents of these areas are associated with the long hour’s jobs in farming, requiring them to remain outdoors for labor and making them highly vulnerable to these severe climate changes.

 

The consequences of rising temperature in South Asia

The effects of this unchecked rise in the temperature would go beyond the health concerns that are usually associated with staying outside for long. Since people who are associated with farming and similar professions will not be able to invest extended time in their jobs, the agricultural output and region’s economy would decline as per the experts’ opinion.

“With the disruption to the agricultural production, it does not need to be the heat wave itself that kills people. Production will go down so potentially everyone will suffer” says Elfatih Eltahir- professor of environmental and civil engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

One study shows that considering the current trajectory of business-as-usual in emitting carbon, the deadly heat waves will cause devastating impacts on not only the fertile Indus but also the Ganges River Basins which produces a lot of region’s supply of food.

As per the current stats:

The current rise in temperature in South Asia affects almost 15% of the population in those regions. There have been a few deadly events which have already set the stage for upcoming and lethal climate change. Just to recall, the heat wave incident in the year 2015 which resulted in the deaths of almost 2500 individuals.

In order to somewhat minimize the effects of these climate conditions, researchers believe that the disastrous scenario is only avoidable if countries make commitments to prevent raising the temperatures by more than 3.6 Fahrenheit or 2 Celsius by the year 2100. That is, there is a need of increasingly ambitious and deliberate efforts to cut down the gas emissions of the greenhouse.

Whereas the South Asia ranks at the highest position on the list of highly threatened regions, it is, however, the only place where global warming could simply change the society’s fabric as the scientist says.

“Emission cuts will make a big difference in the lives of the most vulnerable people in the region. This is not an abstract concept”, says Eltahir.

With this severe heat impacts, the human body is least likely to survive more than just a few hours. While such conditions are still rare to be observed, the lower temperatures are currently more deadly than rising ones.