90 Dead, 1 Million Displaced by Monsoon Flooding in India and Nepal
At least 65 people have died in Nepal, police said Monday, as BBC News reported. Thirty are missing and 38 have been injured. In India, meanwhile, at least 25 have died and around a million were forced to flee their homes, disaster relief organization Rapid Response Chief Executive Mohamad Farukh told The New York Times.
July is usually the wettest month of South Asia's often deadly monsoon season, but the flooding has been particularly extreme in Nepal this year. More intense monsoons in the region are projected to be one of the impacts of the climate crisis. Coincidentally, the flooding came as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) began an author meeting in Kathmandu, Nepal Sunday.
It is somehow fitting to be in Nepal during an extreme monsoon for the @IPCC_CH author meeting - our mandate being climate change impacts, adaptation & vulnerability. Thank you to all the emergency responders who are at the front lines of the flooding. #IPCCinNepal pic.twitter.com/HgymsZiwo8— Erin Coughlan de Perez (@CoughlanClimate) July 14, 2019
"Scientists have been warning that because of climate change, monsoon patterns are also changing and the region needs to prepare for more extremes in weather, severe droughts as well as more intense periods of rain," Al Jazeera reporter Subina Shrestha said.
In India's Assam state, climate chaos is leading to uncertainty among rescue workers as to how much worse flooding will get. Currently, low-lying areas are inundated with 2.2 meters (approximately 7.2 feet) of water, The Guardian reported.
"It might get worse, it all depends on the precipitation model. The rain model is changing because of climate issues," founder of the NGO Rural Volunteers Centre Ravindranath told The Guardian. "We can't assume anything now."
Farukh told The New York Times that the flooding in India was more extreme than usual and that the situation was likely to deteriorate.
"It is getting worse day by day because of continuous rains and overflowing rivers," he said.
Assam is reeling under devastating floods. There is an urgent need for food, water and dry ration on the ground. Your timely support will enable us to reach the most affected families. Please donate now: https://t.co/hipeCFTPLz #AssamFloods #Assam #MondayMotivation— Rapid Response (@RapidResponse) July 15, 2019
In Nepal, heavy rain began Friday and affected 30 of the country's 77 districts, blocking highways and knocking out communication towers. Nine major highways are still blocked and more than 10,000 people have been displaced, Al Jazeera reported.
The heavy rains also flooded Bangladesh, where around 40,000 people have been impacted and at least a dozen people have been killed by lightning strikes, The Guardian reported.
The flooding has especially threatened the 900,000 Rohingya refugees living in camps in the country's south. Heavy rains have killed at least 10 people living in the camps and destroyed thousands of makeshift homes since April.
"The rain and wind are causing misery on the ground and our teams are working day and night to provide emergency services and relocations to affected people," International Organization for Migration Bangladesh deputy chief of mission Manuel Pereira said in a statement reported by The New York Times.
In Myanmar, the country the refugees have fled, heavy rains also caused displacement. More than 18,000 people have been forced to flee their homes and one camp for those displaced by violence within the country was flooded, Reuters reported Monday.
"The whole camp is flooded and people are desperately in need of immediate shelter and food," Arakan National Party Secretary Tun Aung Kyaw told Reuters.
- 537 Dead in India Monsoon - EcoWatch ›
- 1,200 Dead, 41 Million Affected by Flooding in India, Bangladesh ... ›
- Growing Number of Bangladeshis Flee Rising Waters - EcoWatch ›
By Peter Giger
The speed and scale of the response to COVID-19 by governments, businesses and individuals seems to provide hope that we can react to the climate change crisis in a similarly decisive manner - but history tells us that humans do not react to slow-moving and distant threats.
A Game of Jenga<p>Think of it as a game of Jenga and the planet's climate system as the tower. For generations, we have been slowly removing blocks. But at some point, we will remove a pivotal block, such as the collapse of one of the major global ocean circulation systems, for example the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), that will cause all or part of the global climate system to fall into a planetary emergency.</p><p>But worse still, it could cause runaway damage: Where the tipping points form a domino-like cascade, where breaching one triggers breaches of others, creating an unstoppable shift to a radically and swiftly changing climate.</p><p>One of the most concerning tipping points is mass methane release. Methane can be found in deep freeze storage within permafrost and at the bottom of the deepest oceans in the form of methane hydrates. But rising sea and air temperatures are beginning to thaw these stores of methane.</p><p>This would release a powerful greenhouse gas into the atmosphere, 30-times more potent than carbon dioxide as a global warming agent. This would drastically increase temperatures and rush us towards the breach of other tipping points.</p><p>This could include the acceleration of ice thaw on all three of the globe's large, land-based ice sheets – Greenland, West Antarctica and the Wilkes Basin in East Antarctica. The potential collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet is seen as a key tipping point, as its loss could eventually <a href="https://science.sciencemag.org/content/324/5929/901" target="_blank">raise global sea levels by 3.3 meters</a> with important regional variations.</p><p>More than that, we would be on the irreversible path to full land-ice melt, causing sea levels to rise by up to 30 meters, roughly at the rate of two meters per century, or maybe faster. Just look at the raised beaches around the world, at the last high stand of global sea level, at the end of the Pleistocene period around 120,0000 years ago, to see the evidence of such a warm world, which was just 2°C warmer than the present day.</p>
Cutting Off Circulation<p>As well as devastating low-lying and coastal areas around the world, melting polar ice could set off another tipping point: a disablement to the AMOC.</p><p>This circulation system drives a northward flow of warm, salty water on the upper layers of the ocean from the tropics to the northeast Atlantic region, and a southward flow of cold water deep in the ocean.</p><p>The ocean conveyor belt has a major effect on the climate, seasonal cycles and temperature in western and northern Europe. It means the region is warmer than other areas of similar latitude.</p><p>But melting ice from the Greenland ice sheet could threaten the AMOC system. It would dilute the salty sea water in the north Atlantic, making the water lighter and less able or unable to sink. This would slow the engine that drives this ocean circulation.</p><p><a href="https://www.carbonbrief.org/atlantic-conveyor-belt-has-slowed-15-per-cent-since-mid-twentieth-century" target="_blank">Recent research</a> suggests the AMOC has already weakened by around 15% since the middle of the 20th century. If this continues, it could have a major impact on the climate of the northern hemisphere, but particularly Europe. It may even lead to the <a href="https://ore.exeter.ac.uk/repository/handle/10871/39731?show=full" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cessation of arable farming</a> in the UK, for instance.</p><p>It may also reduce rainfall over the Amazon basin, impact the monsoon systems in Asia and, by bringing warm waters into the Southern Ocean, further destabilize ice in Antarctica and accelerate global sea level rise.</p>
The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation has a major effect on the climate. Praetorius (2018)
Is it Time to Declare a Climate Emergency?<p>At what stage, and at what rise in global temperatures, will these tipping points be reached? No one is entirely sure. It may take centuries, millennia or it could be imminent.</p><p>But as COVID-19 taught us, we need to prepare for the expected. We were aware of the risk of a pandemic. We also knew that we were not sufficiently prepared. But we didn't act in a meaningful manner. Thankfully, we have been able to fast-track the production of vaccines to combat COVID-19. But there is no vaccine for climate change once we have passed these tipping points.</p><p><a href="https://www.weforum.org/reports/the-global-risks-report-2021" target="_blank">We need to act now on our climate</a>. Act like these tipping points are imminent. And stop thinking of climate change as a slow-moving, long-term threat that enables us to kick the problem down the road and let future generations deal with it. We must take immediate action to reduce global warming and fulfill our commitments to the <a href="https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Paris Agreement</a>, and build resilience with these tipping points in mind.</p><p>We need to plan now to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, but we also need to plan for the impacts, such as the ability to feed everyone on the planet, develop plans to manage flood risk, as well as manage the social and geopolitical impacts of human migrations that will be a consequence of fight or flight decisions.</p><p>Breaching these tipping points would be cataclysmic and potentially far more devastating than COVID-19. Some may not enjoy hearing these messages, or consider them to be in the realm of science fiction. But if it injects a sense of urgency to make us respond to climate change like we have done to the pandemic, then we must talk more about what has happened before and will happen again.</p><p>Otherwise we will continue playing Jenga with our planet. And ultimately, there will only be one loser – us.</p>
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By John R. Platt
The period of the 45th presidency will go down as dark days for the United States — not just for the violent insurgency and impeachment that capped off Donald Trump's four years in office, but for every regressive action that came before.
- Biden Announces $2 Trillion Climate and Green Recovery Plan ... ›
- How Biden and Kerry Can Rebuild America's Climate Leadership ... ›
- Biden's EPA Pick Michael Regan Urged to Address Environmental ... ›
- How Joe Biden's Climate Plan Compares to the Green New Deal ... ›
Washington state residents are taking climate matters into their own hands. Beginning this month, 90 members of the public join the country's first climate assembly to develop pollution solutions, Crosscut reported.
For the first time ever, a vegan restaurant in France has been awarded a coveted Michelin star.
- Vegan Food Goes Mainstream at U.S. Colleges - EcoWatch ›
- 8 Fast Food Chains That Serve Local, Organic, Vegan Food ... ›
- 15 of the Best Vegan Restaurants in America - EcoWatch ›
Ice cream samples in the Chinese municipality of Tianjin have tested positive for traces of the new coronavirus.
- Coronavirus Found on Frozen Food Imported to China. Should You ... ›
- Here's How to Clean Your Groceries During the COVID-19 Outbreak ... ›
- Young Children May Have Higher Coronavirus Levels, Raising ... ›