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Climate Whiplash: Heatwaves Give Way To Extreme Flooding Globally

Millions have been affected by torrential rain and flooding.

Guardian News / YouTube

Following the record-breaking heatwaves experienced across the globe in July and August, many are now experiencing extreme flooding. This change from one extreme to the other is being called ‘climate whiplash’ by experts.

The summer heat waves were already labeled climate disasters by many. Given their impact on crop production, cargo transportation, and power plants, it’s not a surprise that this extreme heat was seen by many as a bad sign of what is to come for the planet.

Few, however, expected more to come this soon.

Pakistan faces extreme flooding

The droughts have given way to extreme flooding across many parts of the world. Pakistan is one place particularly affected by the flooding. Facing months of an unusually heavy monsoon season, Pakistan has been hit by a crisis.

At least 1,000 people have died from the flooding, many of whom are children. The chaos and the floods have reigned, and the country has almost been at a standstill.

Pakistan’s federal minister for climate change, Sherry Rehman, had this to say of the crisis:

‘One-third of Pakistan is underwater—33 million are affected. Please tell me how that is not catastrophic. That is the size of a small country.’

China hit by flash flooding

Nearby, in western China, flash floods have been sowing disaster. The floods have caused 100,000 people to evacuate and have caused the deaths of more than a dozen people.

However, this extreme flooding has been such a shock because China just a few weeks earlier faced what historians called the worst heatwave ever recorded. No wonder experts are calling it climate whiplash.

Europe and the US face climate whiplash

This extremity of climate whiplash has been felt particularly badly in Asia, but Europe has also been hit.

After the heat was so intense that the Danube dried up, torrential rain was felt across Europe. In the US, climate whiplash has happened across the country at the same time. While the Kentucky river swelled so intensely, many Appalachian towns were left in ruins, and the Colorado river became so low that many western American households faced water cuts.

What is climate whiplash doing to the economy?

A new study by GHD found that water-related disasters (for example, droughts and floods) could cost the global economy $5.6 trillion in GDP between 2022 and 2050.

To put this into perspective, between 1970 and 2021, the total amount of damage from all-natural disasters, not just those related to water, was $3.64 trillion.

Yet now, that number is likely not even to reach just what the US expects to lose in the next 30 years.

What can we do in the face of climate disasters?

Many have linked climate whiplash to the worsening state of climate change.

Patrick Brown, a scientist with the Breakthrough Institute, had this to say about the situation:

“There’s no denying that climate change makes it so it can rain more, and it rains more because there’s more greenhouse gas in the atmosphere. But it can’t account for something like nine times as much as normal. Most of that is random variability in weather that you get no matter what.”

Things are looking dangerous for people all around the planet. Some are going to seemingly extreme lengths to fight against it—but with the rising number of climate disasters, are these moves really so extreme anymore?

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