Leading climate scientists are becoming increasingly alarmed at the daily extreme weather events circulating the globe – from extreme catastrophic flooding to raging wildfires, and unrelenting extreme heat domes.
Our climate emergency is now playing out in turbo-charged time, with records being broken in alarming fashion.
In the U.S., even Joe Biden has now taken to Twitter to warn that Americans are experiencing “devastating impacts of climate change” and advised people what to do in extreme heat.
Right now, families across America are experiencing the devastating impacts of the climate crisis – from floods to extreme heat.
My Administration will continue to deliver on our historic climate agenda to get communities the resources they need to prepare and keep folks safe. https://t.co/eIenjPmaiM
— President Biden (@POTUS) July 12, 2023
You can see why scientists and the President are so concerned. Take Vermont, a state not normally associated with extreme weather.
Earlier this week, Vermont was the latest victim of flash flooding, which caused widespread disruption to the capital Montpelier. Over two months worth of rain, some nine inches fell in just two days.
The main river, which runs through the capital, Winooski River, was at heights not seen since the Great Vermont Flood of 1927. And the flooding drew parallels to Hurricane Irene, which hit the state a decade ago. There are even fears a dam could burst due to the pressure of so much water.
The flooding forced Joe Biden to issue a national state of emergency. Vermont’s governor also issued an emergency declaration. It was not just Vermont either, with flash flooding reported in New York state, with New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Maine and Connecticut all at risk too of flooding.
They are not alone, either. Over the past two weeks, many parts of central and northern New England have received 200 to 300 percent of their normal rainfall for the same period. The flooding payed out in real time on Twitter:
5-8 inches of rain just fell in the Hudson Valley – more than expected in a month. A person’s life was snuffed out. More dead bodies will doubtless be found soon.
Construction proceeded on a new, 2,000,000,000 cubic-foot-per-day fracked gas pipeline during this climate disaster. pic.twitter.com/vL3sjM9y1t
— Climate Defiance (@ClimateDefiance) July 10, 2023
Decimated corn crops by hail as far as the eye can see north of Denver International Airport from round-after-round of severe storms pic.twitter.com/ACuXZOgUxv
— Reed Timmer, PhD (@ReedTimmerAccu) July 8, 2023
Gov. Kathy Hochul of New York, who toured flood damage, said the region was “in the midst of an extraordinary, extraordinary weather event.” “My friends, this is the new normal,” the governor said, referring to the impacts of climate change on flooding. People must “be prepared for the worst,” she said, “because the worst continues to happen.”
"Once again the skies opened up, & wrought so much rain 9 inches of rain in this community, that they're calling this a 1,000-year event," NY Gov. Hochul said. "It's only the second time ever that NWS issued a flash flood emergency. The last time was Hurricane Ida." #hudsonvalley pic.twitter.com/ZPmJFPnvL0
— NBC New York (@NBCNewYork) July 10, 2023
As many communities are finding to their cost, the U.S. is unprepared for such catastrophic flooding. As the New York Times said yesterday “This week’s flooding in Vermont, in which heavy rainfall caused destruction even miles from any river, is evidence of an especially dangerous climate threat: catastrophic flooding can increasingly happen anywhere, with almost no warning. And the United States, experts warn, is nowhere close to ready for that threat.”
Of course, the U.S. is not alone.
Deadly Flash floods trigger chaos in Spain's Zaragoza
— INDEPENDENT PRESS (@IpIndependent) July 8, 2023
?Praying for Himachal! Pls know that climate change is real & happening right now, right here! ''??????? ?????? ???????'' – Nature protects those who protect it.?#HimachalPradesh #Himachalrain #India #Floods #ClimateActionNow pic.twitter.com/QxKIKU885S
— Vandana Chaudhary (@vandymini) July 10, 2023
Meanwhile, in New Delhi, schools had to close earlier this week after heavy monsoon rains relentlessly battered the city. At least fifteen people were killed by landslides and flash floods. There has been other extreme flooding in China and Turkey too.
Six people died, and three others were missing after the “heaviest rain ever” triggered floods and landslides in south-west Japan. “This is the heaviest rain ever experienced” in the region, Satoshi Sugimoto, a meteorological agency official, told the Guardian. “The situation is such that lives are in danger and their safety must be secured.”
And it is only going to get worse as our world warms. According to a recent report by the First Street Foundation, “Flooding from heavy rainfall events is a dangerous phenomenon and has become increasingly more probable and severe in the United States due to climate change.”
The Foundation notes that “As air temperatures increase, 1 per cent increase, 7% more water vapor is carried by the same air volume.” Increasing temperatures have thus created increased intensity, density, and frequency of rainfall events.
The bottom line is that rainfall events thought to occur only once every hundred years are now occurring with far greater frequency. In some places, these formerly rare events are now occurring as often as every 5 or 10 years.
“Sixty-eight degrees Fahrenheit can hold twice as much water as 50 degrees Fahrenheit,” Rodney Wynn, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Tampa Bay told Time magazine earlier this week. “Warm air expands and cool air contracts. You can think of it as a balloon – when it’s heated the volume is going to get larger, so therefore it can hold more moisture.”
Brian Soden, professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Miami, added: “As the climate gets warmer we expect intense rain events to become more common, it’s a very robust prediction of climate models. It’s not surprising to see these events happening, it’s what models have been predicting ever since day one.”
This is why warming matters.
Meanwhile, tens of millions of people in Southern US states are preparing for more heatwaves and heat stress. Miami is experiencing its hottest year on record. Texas, too is struggling under unrelenting heat. Phoenix has experienced temperatures above 110F for 11 consecutive days now, “straining” both the patience and resources of locals.
But again, the U.S is not alone. Northern Africa is just one region experiencing drought. Africa is seen as a sunny and hot continent,” Amadou Thierno Gaye, a research scientist and professor at Cheikh Anta Diop University in Dakar, the capital of Senegal told Bloomberg. “People think we are used to heat, but we are having high temperatures for a longer duration. Nobody is used to this.”
Bloomberg reports that Burkina Faso and Mali, both in West Africa’s Sahel, are among countries that are set to become almost uninhabitable by 2080, if warming rates continue.
Many scientists and commentators have expressed alarm at how records are being broken at speed and how scientists cannot keep up:
A phrase you're going to be hearing a lot from now on: "We're entering uncharted territory." https://t.co/94oNMjuSUm
— Elizabeth Kolbert (@ElizKolbert) July 12, 2023
If you’ve been following, it’s quite astonishing to see so many disastrous floods all around the World, at the same time. https://t.co/KR5uLtVJH5
— Jeff Berardelli (@WeatherProf) July 11, 2023
This is the summer climate change got real, got scary, and it happened… unbelievably fast.
Canada burning, heat domes scorching, floods roaring. Marine heatwaves with ocean temperatures off the charts, impacting everything from marine life to global heat storage. 1/8 pic.twitter.com/BwRT1aeUwF
— ?? Umair (@umairh) July 11, 2023
Don't look up.
Don't look at the flooding in Vermont.
Don't look at the flooding in Spain, India, or Japan either.
Don't look at the coral forecast
Don't look at the balmy water off Florida.
Don't look at the heat dome in Texas.
Don't look at the Antarctic ice anomaly
— Dr. Elizabeth Sawin (@bethsawin) July 11, 2023
"Way above anything models have predicted… the scientific community are struggling to keep up" @DrMikeSparrow– Chief of World Climate Research Programme
— Emma Smart (@smartyfish) July 10, 2023
As well as other climate impacts:
— Terry Hughes (@ProfTerryHughes) July 10, 2023
Record-breaking global temperatures are accelerating Greenland ice melt at an alarming rate
— BBC World Service (@bbcworldservice) July 8, 2023
Meanwhile, in an article in Nature Communications, researchers are warning that the risks of harvest failures in multiple global breadbaskets have been underestimated, due to the threat of climate change. They called the research a “wake-up call” about how our food system could be impacted by climate change
Lead author Kai Kornhuber, a researcher at Columbia University and the German Council on Foreign Relations, said by “increasing the concentration of greenhouse gases, we are entering this uncharted water where we are struggling to really have an accurate idea of what type of extremes we’re going to face,”
Their concerns reflect those of United Nations human rights chief Volker Turk who warned earlier this week of a “truly terrifying” dystopian future. Our environment is burning. It’s melting. It’s flooding. It’s depleting. It’s drying. It’s dying,” he said.
We can stop this. In his Tweet earlier today, Joe Biden said that his Administration will keep on delivering on his climate agenda. But that agenda is flawed. The President could stop the Mountain Valley Pipeline once and for all. He could stop oil and gas leasing on federal lands. He could cut all subsidies to the oil and gas industry. Because if not now, then when? As the U.N says, our world is dying before our eyes.