Climate change has led to an increase in natural disasters

Over the past decade, climate change has been a critical issue in political and international discussion. The issue had long been seen as a problem for the next generation–an issue of the future–as the effects of climate change had yet to reveal themselves. The tipping point, an increase of 1.5 degrees Celsius in the Earth’s average temperature, was commonly treated as an all-or-nothing scenario by many, a reality that has started to reveal itself in current weather patterns developing today.

Scientists have long predicted a connection between climate change and an increase in natural disasters. Climate change specialist Maarten K. van Aalst’s 2006 research paper, “The impacts of climate change on the risk of natural disasters,” is one example among many. July 2021 ranks as the Earth’s hottest month on record, which supports the exact prediction made years ago.

One thing is clear: climate change is here. With hurricanes Henri and Ida being the latest indicators of climate change’s increasing presence, the question must be asked: what will come next?

According to the United Nation’s most recent climate report, “Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis,” scientists expect that the frequency and intensity of hot extremes, marine heatwaves and heavy precipitation will grow. Some regions will see increased agricultural and ecological droughts. Additionally, the report warns of the likelihood of a greater number of intense tropical storms.

The surge of increasingly intense natural disasters is connected to the rising average temperatures of the globe. This cycle of rising and falling temperatures is a phenomenon that typically occurs naturally but has been expedited tenfold in recent years by human activity and advancements in technology. Undeniably, humans have moved the timeline up of the Earth’s current warming trend, leading to rapid changes in land, ocean and atmospheric temperatures.

As the average temperature slowly increases, heatwaves and hotter hot months are anticipated. With the average global temperature climbing, water vapor will more rapidly evaporate into the atmosphere, becoming the fuel needed to generate high-intensity tropical storms. Furthermore, heightened wind speeds in tropical storms will be produced by increased levels of heat trapped in the atmosphere alongside warmer ocean surface temperatures.

Since record-keeping began in 1880, sea levels have risen by 8 inches; projections forecast a rise of 1 to 8 feet by the year 2100 with sea levels rising long after 2100. With that rise, intensified storms will result in storm surges and flooding in many regions unaccustomed to such conditions.

This change in weather patterns will leave a trail of unimaginable destruction and cost. Researchers have said that the number of major hurricanes, Category 3 or above, just in the Atlantic Ocean has doubled since 1980.

Water-related weather patterns are not the only natural disasters provoked by climate change in recent years. Intense heat conditions in many regions, especially as seen along the Western Coast of the United States, have already presented surges in wildfires alongside long-lasting droughts.

Wildfires are another developing issue of climate change. Niklas Hagelberg, a climate change expert for the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), notes a rapidly warming planet will lead to further record-breaking wildfires, such as those seen in California, Oregon and Washington in late 2020. Similarly, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) details a future of increasing fires, both forest fires and grassland fires, among other repercussions of climate change.

Climate change is a problem that must be faced now. As time goes on and the devastating developments of climate change continue to reveal themselves, the number of natural disasters seen as a result will continue to grow. Through increasing temperatures and irreversible shifts in the Earth’s natural homeostasis, the degree of damage of which natural disasters generate will remain out of control. It’s a bleak future to look forward to if nothing is done to reverse the damage.