Extreme Weather

By George Banziger October 6, 2021 in the Marietta Times

Climate change is indeed a worldwide crisis. The international climate summit in Glasgow Scotland, where representatives from 190 nations will convene on November 1, is, only few weeks ahead. And yet, there are still people, some of whom are in influential positions, who are denying and trying to refute what has been evident to everyone including reputable scientists—extreme weather is a direct result of human-caused climate change. Global temperatures have been rising, glaciers and ice caps are melting at an accelerating pace, and seas around the world have been rising, getting warmer, and more acidic.

But what has been most striking and visible in recent months have been extreme weather events, such as Hurricane Ida that ravaged Louisiana and the northeast. Insurance companies are recognizing this scientifically demonstrated phenomenon and have put limits on insurance coverage in flood-prone and hurricane-prone regions. NatCatService, which analyzes losses caused by natural disasters worldwide has documented that there were only 250 extreme natural disasters in 1980 and 750 in 2015.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in their recent Sixth Report noted with “high confidence” heavy precipitation in several of the regions of the world, resulting in serious flood hazards. A major reason for the concern expressed by IPCC and their description as a “red alert” warning to the world is the extreme weather events including heat waves, heavy rains, droughts and associated wildfires, and coastal flooding. These events are bad for ecosystems, for our agricultural economy, and for human health. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has reported that 1,300 people die per year in the U.S. from extreme heat, as compared to 600 deaths per year for other extreme weather events. This is an important figure because global warming is what much of climate change is about.

The IPCC is not some random organization identifiable in a Google search. It is the internationally accepted authority on climate change, which is comprised of 234 scientists from 66 countries. Thousands of other professional scientists contributed to studies analyzed by the IPCC, which reviewed over 14,000 scientific papers. These are research articles written by peer-reviewed scientists, i.e., those who subject their writings to  review by other experts in the field. Fully 97% of peer-reviewed scientists agree that human-caused climate change accounts for the extreme weather events and other associated crises we are now experiencing

Global warming is changing storms. IPCC scientists have concluded that hurricanes are becoming more powerful with higher winds and more rain. Storms are also moving slowly, covering a wide range, and showing rapid intensification. The earth is getting hotter with more heat waves and drier droughts and at the same time is producing bigger storm surges and even greater snowfall. They further have pointed out that hurricanes may be getting more frequent and a lot more intense. Hurricane Ida, which produced massive devastation, flooding, power outages and human suffering is a striking example of all these trends.

Elected public officials,  members of the Biden Administration, and business leaders are well advised to review the summary for policy makers in the recently publicized IPCC Sixth report before the Glasgow Summit. One of the five integrative reasons of concern issued by the IPCC is: “Extreme weather events: risks/impacts to human health, livelihoods, assets and ecosystems from extreme weather events such as heat waves, heavy rain, drought and associated wildfires, and coastal flooding.”

Numerous surveys, such as the recurrent Yale survey, have pointed that the vast majority of Americans supports action on climate change. Times’ readers can show their support of these efforts by contacting Congressman Bill Johnson, Senators Brown, and Portman and other public officials and urge them to support legislation on climate change.