Climatic disasters of 2020 likely to be more intense than 2019

03Jan 2020
The Guardian
Climatic disasters of 2020 likely to be more intense than 2019

CHRONICLERS have been taking records of climatic tragedies over the past year, and a new write up by Christian Aid, a UK charity, enumerates the ferocity of weather-related disasters over the outgoing year. Ordinarily it would be safe enough or hopeful to expect that things will be better in the-

-incoming year, but no premise appears to exist for such optimism. The reasons are clear and vivid; one is being discussed, earth warming and the other reason is mostly covered up.

Lookling at the spate of disasters during the outgoing year is sobering - with the UK charity saying that around 15 climate disasters during 2019 cost over US$1 billion. They chiefly related to extreme weather driven by climate change, and these situations arose in every continent, killing, injuring and displacing millions and occasioning destruction running into billions of dollars. Horrendous as it appears, these phenomena are likely to persist in the coming year, and as the trend has shown since Katrina slashed the US eastern coast in 2005, their ferocity seems to arise, though in a linear fashion. They are random bursts of disaster.

First thought in this foreboding is the fact that temperatures are rising, and 2019 was the second hottest year in history, though the term ‘history’ is unnecessary as all this is a recent phenomenon. It would be more appropriate to say it is the second hottest year since 2010 or at most since 2000 if not 2015, as any space of five years alters the baseline on which comparisons are being made. US skeptics making policy in the Republican Party denied this ‘inconvenient truth’ for a long time, but the US now accepts the facts. But it doesn’t accept current solutions.

In the past we used to see Mozambique being lashed by western Indian Ocean storms on its long coastline and especially the southern part, but the ferocity of the two tornadoes mid 2019 was phenomenal. In the coming year these phenomena are likely to be repeated, but no one can sell where disaster falls, though some parts of the world are favored by location to host more tornadoes. At the same time during 2019 Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe dried out, to the angst and horror of environmentalists around the world, looking in anguish at the cliffs.

Strangely enough some people and even some countries are likely to make some money out of this situation, as sorting out disaster situations implies directing public revenues into unforeseen needs, ordering unexpected goods and services.  Some in Russian economic think tanks even suggest that earth warming shall make Russia great again, that melting snows shall facilitate agriculture, etc. But if Aral Sea and others hadn’t disappeared by massive irrigation and elimination of forest cover, are there no chances that Russia would be even greater, by now?

Closer to home, climate change pushes Sahel conditions southward and Kenya for instance had even less of its land 200 - 300 km from Nairobi hard to put to farming as rain is sporadic.  The country becomes a net importer of maize even as it has long been specializing in producing maize seeds rather than maize for lack of acreage, giving the benefit to Tanzania.  We have an advantage in maize exports but is it an opportunity or just sadness, as all part of a wonderful world?