Opinion: Recent extreme weather events must give a clear signal to governments
|US snow storm have set many states into a standstill. Photo source: BBC.
By Anders Lorenzen
On Friday 3rd January 2014, Britain prepared for severe flooding caused by strong winds. It’s the third extreme storm that the UK has faced in less than a month. Last year at this time, the UK was battling freezing temperatures. Both weather events are extreme and abnormal.
Also on the very same day the north eastern part of North America was battling an extreme snow storm that had prompted the New York State Governor, Andrew Cuomo, to declare New York State in a state of emergency. Only a few weeks ago, possibly the strangest weather map for North America in 2013 had been produced. This time, New York was basking in unseasonally hot temperatures of 21 degrees C while, slightly inland and further north, the curve drastically broke with temperatures reaching -27 and Toronto in Canada facing a dangerous Ice Storm.
In 2013 we also saw the worst typhoon ever to have made landfall, Haiyan hit the Philippines with devastating impacts.
Australia are known for extreme hot temperatures, but last year it went up a notch, forcing weather forecasters to invent a new color code to accommodate the extreme hot temperatures.
Despite this, governments still seem to be in denial that this is caused by climate change despite the fact that year on year we have an increase in the severity and frequency in extreme weather events, as scientists have consistently predicted would happen. Some governments even deny the existence of man-made climate change altogether.
More than any other countries, Australia is bearing the brunt of climate change. But the government, led by climate sceptic Tony Abbott, is living in an idealistic dream world concentrating on expanding Australia’s coal industry and repealing the carbon tax enacted under Labor’s Julia Gillard.
In the UK, the government has cut back in flood defence spending, which coastal villages in the last month have felt the brunt of with huge financial consequences. When the first storm hit in the first half of December, UK’s Environment Minister Owen Patterson, also a climate sceptic, referred to it as one in a hundred year storm, and we would be unlikely to see storms of this calibre in the near future. How wrong he has been proved by climate change itself.
In the US, the majority of the US Congress are still in denial about man made climate change – led largely by House Republicans, and President Obama’s modest approaches to deal with climate change by regulating coal powered power plants, are likely to be met by lawsuit after lawsuit by Republicans and Republican controlled industry. Meanwhile, the US is set to overtake Saudi Arabia as the world’s biggest oil producer by 2020. The Obama Administration has opened up more land for oil drilling than any other US President has ever done before.
It is time governments understand that climate change is here now, is hurting us and hurting the economy. Therefore the most sensible economic policy is to expand flood defence spending and other extreme weather events infrastructure spending.
Any Politicians that in their own bubble, and pressurised by some industries, think that climate change is something made up by the political left, just need to open their eyes, look out the window and then fight to leave as much fossil fuel in the ground as possible to limit the consequences of future weather events as much as possible.
If you think the weather we have witnessed in 2013 and the beginning of 2014 is bad, know this, it will get worse a lot worse.
Sub edited by Charlotte Paton
Also posted on the Huffington Post
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