Rescuers check for victims in flooded cars on a road in Erftstadt, Germany. AP
As the death toll from flooding in Western Europe climbed above 180 on Sunday climate scientists say the link between extreme weather and global warming is unmistakable and the urgency to do something about climate change undeniable (“Europe toll jumps as hundreds remain missing across Germany,” Gulf Today, July 18).
On the other hand in California a rapidly growing wildfire south of Lake Tahoe jumped a highway, prompting more evacuation orders on Saturday as critically dangerous wildfire weather loomed in the coming days.
Scientists can’t yet say for sure whether climate change caused the flooding, but they insist that it certainly exacerbates the extreme weather that has been on show around the world.
Extremely dry conditions and heat waves tied to climate change have swept the region, making wildfires harder to fight. Climate change has made the West much warmer and drier in the past 30 years and will continue to make the weather more extreme and wildfires more frequent and destructive.
In Europe, masses of air loaded with water were blocked at high altitude by cold temperatures, leading them to stagnate for four days over the region and dump torrents of rain.
We must not kid ourselves that climate change is limited to a few isolated disasters or to one region or time period.
I totally agree with Jean Jouzel, a climatologist and former vice-president of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), that there is a “plausible” link, though it has not been proven yet.
“Unfortunately, we are in the early stages of global warming, and what lies ahead will be even worse,” Jouzel said to some reporters.
He further said, “The phenomenon is familiar to meteorologists, but it has been 100 years since it last occurred on this scale.”