Quantcast

Timeline of Extreme Weather Events Aligns with Scientists' Predictions of a Warmer Planet

Climate

World Resources Institute

By Kelly Levin

Over the past several months, extreme weather and climate events in the form of heat waves, droughts, fires and flooding have seemed to become the norm rather than the exception. In the past half-year alone, millions of people have been affected across the globe–from Europe suffering from the worst cold snap in a quarter century; to extreme flooding in Australia, Brazil, China and the Philippines; to drought in the Sahel. Records have been broken monthly in the continental United States, with the warmest spring and 12-month period experienced this year and severe fires and drought affecting large swaths of the country.

So how bad has it really been? The World Resources Institute has put together a timeline of extreme climate and weather events in 2012. This is not a comprehensive listing of every event, but an attempt to compile the most significant events of the year.

The Climate Change Connection

Many people are asking whether climate change can explain the recent spate of extreme events. While the timeline is not an attempt to perform analysis connecting any of these events to climate change, many of these occurrences are in line with what scientists have predicted in a warmer world. Plus, the science of attributing extreme events to human-induced warming has improved significantly. This evolving science is documented on the timeline as well.

It’s too early to tell how the rest of the year will take shape, and it’s true that every year is marked by floods, droughts, heat waves and other extreme events. However, these past months are unusual in that numerous records have been broken around the world.

What we do know is that many extreme events will increase in severity and intensity if we continue on our carbon-intensive pathway. While it’s too late to reverse the course of past extreme events, there is much we can do–and must do–if we are to stop fueling the intensity and severity of our changing climate.

Visit EcoWatch’s CLIMATE CHANGE page for more related news on this topic.

--------

Kelly Levin is a senior associate with World Resource Institute’s major emerging economies objective. She leads World Resource Institute’s Measurement and Performance Tracking Project, which builds capacity in developing countries to create and enhance systems that track emissions and emissions reductions associated with climate and energy policies and low-carbon development goals.

The timeline was created with assistance from Hilary Ross, World Resource Institute's Communications Coordinator.

 

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

FDA

Food manufacturer General Mills issued a voluntary recall of more than 600,000 pounds, or about 120,000 bags, of Gold Medal Unbleached All Purpose Flour this week after a sample tested positive for a bacteria strain known to cause illness.

Read More Show Less
Imelda flooded highway 69 North in Houston Thursday. Thomas B. Shea / Getty Images

Two have died and at least 1,000 had to be rescued as Tropical Storm Imelda brought extreme flooding to the Houston area Thursday, only two years after the devastation of Hurricane Harvey, the Associated Press reported Friday.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Aerial assessment of Hurricane Sandy damage in Connecticut. Dannel Malloy / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Extreme weather events supercharged by climate change in 2012 led to nearly 1,000 more deaths, more than 20,000 additional hospitalizations, and cost the U.S. healthcare system $10 billion, a new report finds.

Read More Show Less
Giant sequoia trees at Sequoia National Park, California. lucky-photographer / iStock / Getty Images Plus

A Bay Area conservation group struck a deal to buy and to protect the world's largest remaining privately owned sequoia forest for $15.6 million. Now it needs to raise the money, according to CNN.

Read More Show Less
This aerial view shows the Ogasayama Sports Park Ecopa Stadium, one of the venues for 2019 Rugby World Cup. MARTIN BUREAU / AFP / Getty Images

The Rugby World Cup starts Friday in Japan where Pacific Island teams from Samoa, Fiji and Tonga will face off against teams from industrialized nations. However, a new report from a UK-based NGO says that when the teams gather for the opening ceremony on Friday night and listen to the theme song "World In Union," the hypocrisy of climate injustice will take center stage.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Vera_Petrunina / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Wudan Yan

In June, New York Times journalist Andy Newman wrote an article titled, "If seeing the world helps ruin it, should we stay home?" In it, he raised the question of whether or not travel by plane, boat, or car—all of which contribute to climate change, rising sea levels, and melting glaciers—might pose a moral challenge to the responsibility that each of us has to not exacerbate the already catastrophic consequences of climate change. The premise of Newman's piece rests on his assertion that traveling "somewhere far away… is the biggest single action a private citizen can take to worsen climate change."

Read More Show Less
Volunteer caucasian woman giving grain to starving African children. Bartosz Hadyniak / E+ / Getty Images

By Frances Moore Lappé

Food will be scarce, expensive and less nutritious," CNN warns us in its coverage of the UN's new "Climate Change and Land" report. The New York Times announces that "Climate Change Threatens the World's Food Supply."

Read More Show Less
British Airways 757. Jon Osborne / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

By Adam Vaughan

Two-thirds of people in the UK think the amount people fly should be reined in to tackle climate change, polling has found.

Read More Show Less