Over half of world population affected by extreme summer weather

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Over half of world population affected by extreme summer weather

As global climate change intensifies, extreme weather events have grown increasingly frequent and severe worldwide, reported Xinhua.

In June and early July of this year, various extreme weather phenomena were observed across the globe, impacting natural ecosystems and over half of the world's population.

HEATWAVES

Multiple regions experienced unprecedented heatwaves in June and early July. The southwestern United States, Mexico, southern Europe, most of South Asia and northern Africa were engulfed by sustained heat, with some areas recording temperatures exceeding 45 degrees Celsius.

Concerns about wildfires, drought and disruptions to power and water supplies, which could lead to significant economic losses and environmental damage, are prevalent.

Climate Central, an independent nonprofit organization focusing on weather research, said that between June 16 and 24, 4.97 billion people — over 60 percent of the world's population — experienced extreme heat.

This extreme heat not only disrupted daily life but also led to a surge in heat-related illnesses such as thermoplegia, heat cramps and heat exhaustion, severely affecting public health, particularly the elderly and those with chronic diseases, and underscoring the personal impact of extreme weather.

Authorities in some countries urged residents, especially elderly people and children, to use air conditioners appropriately, stay hydrated even when not thirsty, and avoid unnecessary outings and exercise.

In Sudan, the production of maize has more than halved due to the sweltering heat, with temperatures surpassing 50 degrees Celsius.

Normally, one feddan of maize (about 0.4 hectares) in northern Sudan produces about 15 100-kilogram sacks; this year, the number dropped to merely six sacks.

HEAVY RAINFALL AND FLOODING

Concurrently, heavy rainfall and floods ravaged several areas globally. In India, the ongoing floods in the northeastern state of Assam have affected over 2.1 million people and killed at least 52, officials said last Friday.

The situation continues to be grim in 29 districts of the state.

According to the Assam State Disaster Management Authority, 3,208 villages have been inundated, and over 57,018 hectares of crop area have been damaged across the affected districts.

Additionally, floods hit Bangladesh, Nepal and Myanmar, forcing thousands of people to evacuate.

Devastating floods have left large swaths of land in Bangladesh's northeastern Sylhet division underwater, marking the third wave of flooding in less than a month in the region.

More than 1 million people in northeastern Bangladesh districts, including Sylhet and nearby Sunamganj and Moulvibazar, were stranded due to extensive flooding after days of heavy rains.

Millions of people in Bangladesh, crisscrossed by hundreds of rivers, suffer from flooding. The low-lying country experiences seasonal floods every year during the June-September monsoon, when rivers that feed into the Bay of Bengal burst their banks.

Last month, flash floods displaced more than 2 million people during two rounds of flooding in the region, affecting hundreds of areas and causing untold suffering to the dwellers.

Sheikh Russel Hasan, deputy commissioner and district magistrate in Sylhet, told Xinhua that prolonged torrential rains and runoff from upstream hilly regions on the Indian border caused the main rivers in the region to swell beyond danger levels.

HURRICANES AND STORMS

Hurricane Beryl, a long-lived tropical cyclone active in the Gulf of Mexico, significantly impacted Jamaica, Mexico and other countries in late June and early July.

The hurricane brought heavy rainfall accompanied by strong winds, which led to flash floods, storm surges and other secondary disasters.

Over 1 million people in the Caribbean have been affected by Hurricane Beryl, UN humanitarian agency said Friday.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said the hurricane has affected some 40,000 people in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, more than 110,000 people in Grenada, and 920,000 people in Jamaica.

As a category 4 hurricane that has claimed at least 11 lives so far, Beryl left a trail of destruction in Grenada and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines last Monday, then impacting Jamaica on Wednesday. The hurricane is currently approaching the Texas Gulf Coast.

The International Organization for Migration reported that the hurricane caused extreme damage to the islands of Carriacou and Petit Martinique in Grenada, where 70 percent and 97 percent of buildings were damaged, respectively. In Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, 90 percent of homes on Union Island were affected, while nearly all buildings were damaged on the island of Canouan.

Tropical Storm Alberto already soaked the Gulf of Mexico in June.

RESPONSE MEASURES

Governments and the international community must take more proactive measures to address global extreme weather.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned last Monday that climate change's damaging effects are a major driver and multiplier of suffering, displacement and competition for scarce resources.

"We recently received confirmation that the last 12 months have been the hottest on record — a sign that we are hurtling in the wrong direction," Guterres said.

On June 5, the UN chief warned of "a climate hell" in a video address marking World Environment Day.

"It's climate crunch time," he said, emphasizing that "the need for action is unprecedented, but so is the opportunity — not just to deliver on climate, but on economic prosperity and sustainable development."

"We are way off track to meet the goals set in the Paris Agreement," said Deputy Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Ko Barrett.

"We must urgently do more to cut greenhouse gas emissions, or we will face increasingly high economic costs, millions of lives affected by extreme weather, and extensive damage to the environment and biodiversity," she said.

On a global scale, the COP28 UN Climate Change Conference in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, last year concluded with an agreement to ratchet up climate action before 2030, with the overarching aim of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius within reach.

"Whilst we didn't turn the page on the fossil fuel era in Dubai, this outcome is the beginning of the end," said Simon Stiell, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, in his closing speech. "Now all governments and businesses need to turn these pledges into real-economy outcomes, without delay."

Source: www.dailyfinland.fi

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