Monday, January 17, 2011

extreme weather

Australia has been experiencing some extreme weather lately.

In December, the first month of summer, we had a heat wave in Perth, with some bushfires, light snow in Tasmania, a cool Christmas in Sydney and torrential rain and flooding in Queensland.

Two summers ago, devastating fires raged out of control across wide areas of central Victoria, almost 200 people died and many properties were destroyed. These fires left a mark on most Australians. Now, unprecedented rain has caused unpredicted flash flooding in Brisbane and southern Queensland, and has inundated thousands of homes, with about 20 people dead and another dozen missing.

it's happening overseas too

Extreme weather has been experienced in many places around the world in 2010 and 2011 - heavy snow in Europe around Christmas, floods in Pakistan, Brazil and Sri Lanka and a heat wave in Russia. 2010 saw record high temperatures in 19 countries (the most ever for one year) which cover 20% of the world's land area. 2010 has been the hottest year on record in the US and the equal hottest (with 2005) globally.

has there been a change in our climate?

It seems lots of people are now asking this question. And of course, the answer is uncertain - it takes time to establish a climate trend. But the experts seem to be saying two things:

  1. Climate change models predict an increase in extreme weather events, and these examples seem to fit that prediction. Some scientists and insurance risk managers cannot deny the connection.
  2. We should expect to see more of the same in the future, as climate change progresses.

Overall, the news isn't good. It is surely time to stop the denial and face the almost certain facts.

Further information: before and after air photos, emergency websites, how to donate to support victims, where is God in natural disasters?.

Photos from Flickr.

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