Weather havoc being experienced worldwide is mainly the result of unpredictably high rain fall and surprisingly low temperatures.
The recent human disaster in Pakistan is responsible for over a thousand deaths as whole villages, herds of animals and food stores were washed away. Post-disaster impacts like cholera have yet to hit but already the costs of rescue and relief are enormous. The rebuilding programme that will be required over coming years will be more costly still.
“Climate change will be a small but steady contributor to rainfall in the region,”
Jeff Knight, climate variability expert at the UK Met Office Hadley Centre.
Last month the flooding was in China where water levels in one of the Yangtze’s tributaries were reported as being the highest in thirty years. One village in central China experienced thirty three deaths after a bridge collapsed into the torrent following what locals described as the heaviest rain in one hundred years.
The eastern slopes of the Andes, which fall steeply into the Amazon basin, always receive a lot of rainfall between November and March, but in the last two years there have been several incidents of rivers spilling over and flooding in ways never seen in living memory. One prominent example occurred last year when thousands of tourists were trapped by flooding at Machu Picchu. In July 2010, the Peruvian government declared a state of national emergency in almost half the country due to highly unusual sub-zero temperatures. The capital, Lima, has been suffering its coldest winter in fifty years.
In Mexico, climate change is expected to cause mass human migration, mainly north into the USA and, according to researchers, by the year 2080 increasing temperatures and decreasing crop yields will cause between 1.4 million and 6.7 million adult Mexicans to emigrate to the USA.
The UK, too, has just come through the driest first half-year in the last eighty years as well as the coldest winter in forty.