Entire world is in the grip of the climate catastrophe

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The Australian fires have been one of the most shocking recent climate crisis phenomena.

Extreme weather, driven by human-caused climate change, hit every populated continent in 2019

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3rd January 2020 by Graham Martin 3 Comments

The entire world is now counting the devastating cost of the climate crisis.

A new report details how extreme weather, driven by human-caused climate change, hit every populated continent in 2019, killing, injuring and displacing millions and causing billions of dollars of economic damage.

Counting the Cost 2019: a year of climate breakdown, published by Christian Aid, identifies 15 of the most destructive droughts, floods, fires, typhoons and cyclones of 2019, each of which caused damage of over $1 billion. Seven of the events cost more than $10bn each.

These figures are likely to be underestimates - in some cases they include only insured losses and do not take into account the costs of lost productivity and uninsured losses.

The issue has been highlighted recently by shocking scenes from Australia where fires have raged out of control.

All of these disasters are linked with human-caused climate change. In some cases scientific studies have shown that this made the event more likely or stronger, for example with Cyclone Idai in Africa and floods in India and the United States.

In other cases, the event was the result of shifts in weather patterns - like higher temperatures and reduced rainfall that made fires more likely or warmer water temperatures that supercharged tropical storms - that are themselves consequences of climate change.

While the report focuses on the financial cost of climate change-driven extreme weather events, in many developing countries the human cost of climate change to vulnerable communities is even higher than the financial cost, and there are many slow-onset droughts, weather change and sea encroachment that are progressively and devastatingly impacting millions of people worldwide.

The most financially costly disasters identified by the report were wildfires in California, which caused $25bn, followed by Typhoon Hagibis in Japan ($15bn) and floods in the American mid-west ($12.5bn) and China ($12bn). The events with the greatest loss of life were floods in Northern India which killed 1,900 and Cyclone Idai which killed 1,300.

Glasgow will take centre stage in the fight against the climate crisis when the city hosts the COP26 summit in November, and experts are warning that 2020 will be a decisive year.

Report co-author, Dr Kat Kramer, Christian Aid’s global climate lead, said: “2020 is going to be a huge year for how the world responds to the growing climate crisis. We have the biggest summit since the Paris agreement was signed five years ago, taking place in Glasgow, where countries must commit to further cut their emissions in line with the 1.5C temperature limit, and boost funding for poor countries suffering from the kind of impacts seen in this report.

“Last year emissions continued to rise, so it’s essential that nations prepare these new and enhanced pledges for action to the Paris agreement as soon as possible. That will ensure the world responds urgently to the warnings of scientists, as well as the demands from school children around the globe who are horrified at the kind of world they are being forced to inherit.”

Sally Foster-Fulton, head of Christian Aid Scotland, added: “In the year that Scotland signed one of the world’s most ambitious climate change acts, this report is a stark reminder about the urgency of climate action.

“In countries such as Mozambique which suffered a great loss of life as well as financial cost when Cyclone Idai hit in March, we must remember, as Glasgow prepares to host COP26, that it is the poorest countries, the ones that have done the least to cause climate change, are the ones suffering the most.”

4th January 2020 by Danny Mutch

"human-caused climate change, hit every populated continent in 2019, killing, injuring and displacing millions and causing billions of dollars of economic damage."Please produce the scientific evidence of this "human-caused climate change". The climate by its very nature changes on a daily basis. What killed the dinosaurs? humans didn't exist...I am not a climate change denyer - but would like to see less emotion and more science please.

4th January 2020 by Pat Stewart

But there is no climate emergency...30,000 delegates and 200 world leaders are coming to Scotland in 2020 for a conference about...climate change. Irony doesn't cut it...Comment by Danny Mutch says it all - why is Glasgow and Scotland encouraging world leaders and their entourages to fly/boat to Glasgow rather than attend virtually. As he says - if there is agenuine commitment to doing something about climate change - why not only accept delegates and world leaders who can come only by land and public transport.

8th January 2020 by lok yue

I know it makes for a much more dramatic narrative if we hysterically blame 'climate change' but the reality of the bush fires in Australia have been largely caused by human stupidity (and human arson). The following is from 'The Australian': Christine Finlay has been sounding the alarm on bushfires in Australia for more than a decade after tracking the relationship ­between reduced cool burning and the frequency of firestorms. And the Queensland-based fire ­researcher, who charted a century of archival bushfire records for her PhD, has long been screaming danger. Finlay’s thesis examined problem bushfires between 1881 and 1981. What she found after plotting the historical data on a graph was that there was a marked increase in the size and frequency of fires after 1919. This was when bushfire-reduction operations increasingly moved away from traditional indigenous practices such as low-­intensity cool burning. “For years, I energetically sent this predictive model to government agencies, in particular bushfire services, the media, coronial and parliamentary inquiries and so on,” she says. “Horribly ­ignored, it proved horribly accurate