Content warning: This article discusses damages from climate disasters.
Strained infrastructure, displaced families, and ruined hometowns — a now familiar trio in weather-associated disasters. Despite weather-related catastrophes becoming the norm, as shown in their fivefold increase in the last 50 years, mortalities have decreased almost threefold! Seems manageable, right? But nearly $400 million dollars are lost each day as nations weather disasters that are increasingly linked to climate change driven by human action.
Events like this were not meant to happen this frequently, but we’re seeing them more often and with far more intensity than we have before.
Rapidly gaining strength, Hurricane Ian hit Cayo Costa Island, Florida in September 2022 as a Category 4 hurricane, which can cause catastrophic damage to homes and reach wind speeds up to 156 miles per hour. People who stayed in the coastal state witnessed waves as tall as 13 feet in areas like Fort Myers, Florida, USA.
Cities experience immense damage from storm surges like these because storms push water inland from the coast, where the lack of proper drainage systems forces it into houses and businesses and onto streets and highways. As a result of Hurricane Ian, over a hundred lives were lost, and billions of dollars in damage were inflicted. But Florida residents must simply brace for the next hurricane season.
Hurricane Ian has been the deadliest hurricane in Florida this century, for now.
Heat waves and droughts
While frying an egg using sun rays makes for a fun trend, it ultimately screams concern. Hot temperatures affecting Europe this summer and other parts of the world wreaked havoc on energy infrastructure and quality of life for an entire summer.
Considering only one-fifth of European households have functional air conditioning, people all across the continent, especially the elderly and those in health-care institutions, were suffering in these heat waves — which reached 47 degrees Celsius. Thousands of lives were lost, crops and farm animals were destroyed, and terrain and air quality were damaged by wildfires, but European nations will simply have to brace for the next heat dome.
These were the hottest temperatures in Europe on record, for now.
Floods across Pakistan
Nearly 15 per cent of the Pakistani population was affected by the recent floods, with the country losing educational, logistical, informational, and economic infrastructure. Driven by increasing temperatures, melting glaciers and stronger than usual monsoons flooded Pakistan in August 2022, and left a wave of destruction affecting almost one sixth of the country.
With the flood causing the loss of over 1,700 lives and displacing millions of residents, Pakistani residents must rebuild their country before they can even prepare for the next climate disaster. It’s unfair for a country to be left preparing for another disaster like this while facing compounding issues like water-borne diseases and malnutrition.
This year saw the deadliest flood in Pakistan on record, for now.
Where are we headed?
There is a clear trend in the severity of these disasters. Can you imagine what your life will be like as disasters get more frequent, with seasons becoming a blend of disasters and increasingly warmer and more violent each year? As the US Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo put it during the launch of a government initiative for climate information, “this summer… is likely to be one of the coolest summers of the rest of our lives.”
Every year, we reach a culmination of the most extreme events increasing in intensity and frequency. The shortsightedness of governments, corporations, and individuals is leading to the destruction of a planet teeming with resources, sights, and nature to accommodate everyone multiple times over.
At what point do we hold institutions and people accountable if they’re capable of implementing and enforcing change?