Convergence of Signs

How extreme weather in 2018 cost the world billions

… And great earthquakes shall be in diverse places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven. (Luke 21:11).

… And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; (Luke 21:25)

… Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken; (Luke 21:26)

… This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. (2 Timothy 3:1)

How extreme weather in 2018 cost the world billions

Anne Gulland. The Telegraph. December 26, 2018

Floods, drought, hurricanes and fires cost the world nearly $100billion in 2018, as well as causing untold human damage, according to an analysis of the world’s most extreme weather of the year.

In a new report, charity Christian Aid has highlighted the 10 worst and most expensive weather events of the year – from the ongoing drought in Australia to Europe’s summer heatwaves to floods in India – and highlighted the link with climate change.

As well as costing billions of pounds the extreme weather also cost thousands of lives, with 500 people dying in floods in southern India alone.

Earlier this year a major report by medical journal the Lancet highlighted the impact of climate change: from heatwaves in the northern hemisphere to increasingly frequent dengue outbreaks in the tropics.

The Christian Aid report said four of the most extreme events cost more than $7billion. These included hurricanes Florence and Michael, which hit the US and parts of Central America and the Caribbean in September and October, causing damage initially estimated at $17 billion for Florence and $15 billion for Michael.

Japan’s summer floods killed at least 230 people and cost $7 billion. They were followed by record-breaking heat and then Typhoon Jebi, the most powerful storm to hit the country for 25 years.

And the wildfires in California, which raged over the late summer and autumn, are estimated to have cost up to $13billion.

This summer’s heatwave in Europe saw record temperatures across the continent. The UK Met Office declared it the joint hottest ever alongside the summers of 1976, 2003 and 2006 and temperature records were broken in the Czech Republic and Sweden. The Met Office said the heatwave was around “30 times more likely” because of climate change. 

Initial estimates of the number of deaths due to the heat include nearly 1,500 people in France and 250 in Denmark. And wildfires sparked by the high temperatures killed 99 people in Greece.

After torrential rain and landslides, a summer heatwave hit Japan particularly hard: more than 30,000 people were admitted to hospital for heatstroke in August – a national record – and 105 heatstroke deaths were recorded in Tokyo alone.

The report highlights how Japanese scientists have linked the summer’s extreme heat with climate change. The heatwave could not have happened without human-caused global warming, according to research by the University of Tokyo and the Meteorological Research Institute at the Japan Meteorological Agency.

Christian Aid warned that 2018’s weather is likely to become the norm rather than the exception.

The report stated: “In fact, it may soon seem a mild year. Rising temperatures mean that existing temperature records will almost certainly soon be broken. Projections that 2019 will see an El Niño – a natural weather phenomenon that temporarily increases global temperatures – means that next year is likely to be even hotter.”

Commenting on the report, Dr Michael Mann, distinguished professor of atmospheric science at Penn State University in the US, said that this summer’s “unprecedented” weather was the “face of climate change”.

“The world’s weather is becoming more extreme before our eyes – the only thing that can stop this destructive trend from escalating is a rapid fall in carbon emissions,” he said.

Dr Saleemul Huq, director of the International Centre for Climate Change & Development in Bangladesh, said 2018 was a tipping point in making people wake up to the effects of climate change.

“Countries like Bangladesh are suffering the consequences of such climatic disasters. This makes it even more urgent for all countries, especially the biggest emitters, to reduce their emissions to keep global temperatures below 1.5 degrees,” he said.

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