Climate change, the long-term shift in global or regional climate patterns, has been a persisting global issue until today. This environmental issue has not only continued to influence the lives of millions, but also poses a huge threat to many species. Every year, there has been an increase in global temperatures, along with an increase in the vulnerability of natural disasters around the world, as a result of climate change and global warming. This means that more heat within the atmosphere makes storms, hurricanes, earthquakes, droughts, and other severe environmental disasters more susceptible over time.
Firstly, an example of a recent natural disaster that has been occurring today as a result of climate change is the wildfire in California. According to the National Interagency Fire Center, there are 12 large fires actively burning in California, even up to this day. CNN has also stated that wildfires have seared more than two million acres of California land this year, equivalent to 150,000 acres less than the previous year, which saw the most acreage ever lost to wildfires. Factors that may contribute to the increased vulnerability of these fires include extreme heat, dryness, wind, and particular human activity, all of which are closely related to climate change. While California’s climate continues to be prone to this natural disaster, it is almost impossible to separate the link between climate change and bigger fires.
Moreover, Hurricane Ida is an example of a natural disaster that has been occurring today, due to climate change. Lasting from August 26 to September 4 of 2021, Hurricane Ida was a highly destructive Category 4 Atlantic hurricane that caused extreme flooding in New York City. More than three inches of rain fell within an hour in New York City, smashing all prior records, as highways and crowded streets turned into rivers. This claimed the lives of many people, the majority of whom drowned in basement flats. In the meantime, Superstorm Sandy, which flooded major swathes of the city 11 years ago, brought up haunting memories of the damage. Considering the future of New York City, Ross Barken, a journalist from The Guardian states, “The death and destruction that Hurricane Ida just inflicted on New York is a reminder that the climate crisis isn’t coming. It’s here. There will be more fierce hurricanes and flooding, the kind of weather events that can destabilize a society.”
Equally important, there have also been other natural disasters, such as earthquakes, that resulted from climate change. In fact, recently, there was a destructive earthquake in Haiti in August of 2021, with a magnitude of 7.2. The human toll from this earthquake is still being tallied, but in towns and villages still cut off from aid workers, there were more than 2,200 deaths and 30,000 homes destroyed. Hundreds of people in Haiti have gone missing, and survivors believe that many of them will never be recovered. Children have still been separated from their guardians, while there is a huge amount of people in need of medical care. The arrival of another natural disaster two days after the earthquake, Tropical Storm Grace, only added to their suffering. This is an example of how one natural disaster may be accompanied by another, due to climate change and other unfavorable environmental factors.
Climate change has been an ongoing global issue that brings negative impacts to all countries in the world, yet many people still fail to recognize the seriousness of it, considering a rise in other global issues that people are more drawn towards. A rise in global temperatures increases the vulnerability to natural disasters, not only in specific regions, but across the entire globe. Affecting the environment and ecosystem for the worse, these disasters have and will continue to influence the way humans live. Therefore, it is important to take significant steps towards decreasing the risk of climate change, paving the way for a sustainable future.
Feature Image: Noah Berger/AP