This summer has seen a number of countries across the globe hit by shocking natural disasters, with global warming being cited as one of the possible causes. The floods in Pakistan and China have had a terrible effect on the countries’ inhabitants, while the unprecedented hot weather in Russia has affected not only the country itself, but the global food market.
The floods in Pakistan have left approximately 20 million people injured or homeless, according to the United Nations, as well as ruining 3.6 million hectares of farmland. The floods are still continuing and putting more people’s lives in danger. China’s heavy rains caused a landslide in Zhouqu county in August, leading to a loss of more than 1,000 lives, and made the Yalu river swell, resulting in burst banks and flooding in Dandong, with 100,000 people evacuated from their homes for their own safety.
Temperatures in Russia soared to 39º this summer, producing forest fires which created strong pollution in Moscow. Fifty people have died because of the forest fires, with an estimated 700 people dying daily in Moscow because of the heat. It also damaged Russia’s wheat crops, which subsequently led to Prime Minister Putin’s decision to ban grain exports until the end of this year, with a view to extending the ban.
These tragic events are arguably an indication of climate change due to their severity, with a lack of environmental consciousness causing problems during these natural disasters. In Zhouqu logging – the cutting down of trees – exacerbated the problems caused by the landslide, demonstrating the implications of disregarding the importance of nature conservation, while the high concentration of greenhouse gases in the air in Moscow has been discussed as a possible reason for its situation.
And it is not only the country where the natural disaster happens that suffers – the rest of the world is affected in some way too. Around $460 million are needed for immediate relief for the Pakistan flood victims, with countries all over the world encouraging people to give generously. The fires caused by Russia’s heat wave destroyed one fifth of Russia’s crops, bringing about the decision to stop grain exports to other countries. This affects the British market, if not dramatically, then partly, as it adds to the increase in food prices, which, coupled with the January VAT rise to 20%, might make a very big difference to some. When climate change affects us directly, we are more likely to pay attention.
The occurrence of these events and their taking place in different parts of the world at the same time suggests that climate change is a bigger threat than ever before. The possibility that the way we treat the earth might be responsible for making the consequences of these disasters worse only serves to strengthen this as a warning to countries all over the world to think about how they treat the environment.