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Climate Change Has Left It’s Mark on 2011

2012/01/03

Jeff Masters, guest blogger at Climate Progress, wrote an excellent summary of the natural disasters of 2011.  I won’t try to improve or add to what he wrote but rather give you a general summary.  However, I strongly encourage you to read the entire article yourself.

Alright.  First off, a few overall statistics.  Globally, we experienced 32 natural disasters that caused 1 billion dollars or more in damages in 13 different countries (see table below).  Of those 13 countries, five experienced their most expensive natural disasters ever.  Those countries are Thailand, Australia, Columbia, Sri Lanka and Cambodia.

Photo: thinkprogress.org

Photo: thinkprogress.org

The deadliest weather disaster was the famine in the Horn of Africa.  Some would argue that the famine was in part due to the lack of action from the local government.  However, as a US Geological Survey scientist said “if it weren’t in drought, it wouldn’t be a famine”.  And, yes, you can make a link between climate change and this drought: surface temperatures in the western Pacific ocean and Indian ocean have increased along with global temperatures.  And those increased ocean temperatures have caused an increased dryness in Africa.  As a result the Horn of Africa went through two failed rainy seasons in a row (late 2010 and early 2011), leading to the drought which took the lives of almost 30 000 children under the age of 5.  The total number of casualties and the monetary damages have not yet been totaled.

The most expensive weather disaster was the flooding in Thailand.  These floods which affected 9,8 million people (that’s almost a third of Canada’s population) and destroyed 25% of the country’s rice crop caused 45 billion dollars in damages.  That is 18% of the country’s GDP!  Imagine how horrible it would be for us in Canada if we experienced a natural disaster that caused 240 billion dollars in damages (that’s 18% of our GDP).  Or if the USA had a natural disaster causing 2,6 trillion dollars in damages (18% of the USA’s GDP).

Flooding in Thailand.  Photo: Petty Officer 1st Class Jennifer Villalovos.

Flooding in Thailand. Photo: Petty Officer 1st Class Jennifer Villalovos.

And the list goes on.  Australia experienced 30 billion dollars in damages and 35 dead from flooding.  The US experienced a record tornado outbreak that caused 10 billion dollars in damages and killed 321.  A second tornado outbreak that caused 9 billion dollars in damages included a single tornado (see video below) that killed 158 people and caused 3 billion dollars in damages making it the most expensive tornado in world history.  The drought in the American state of Texas caused 10 billion dollars in damages in 2011 and it is not over.  Brazil had its deadliest flood ever, losing 902 people.  The Philippines had its second deadliest flood, losing 1200 people.

 

Reading about what so many countries have gone through makes the lack of international action regarding climate change that much more… disappointing… incredible… frustrating… f#@%ing insane!

How much worse does it have to get before the “climate skeptics” realize that this is real?  How much worse does it have to get before countries like Canada and the USA take this threat seriously and act?

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