Dear Mum and Dad,
I’ve done some bad bad things. You might have heard of some.
Maybe you have read about others.
But I wanted to put down in writing ALL the bad bad things I have done, or have helped to do, in 2015 alone.
It’s not pretty. But I’m not sorry.
Wait until you see what I’ve got in store for next year.
In March, category five tropical storm Cyclone Pam hit islands in the South Pacific.
Most of the devastation occurred in Vanuatu but extended to surrounding islands such as Kiribati, the Solomon Islands and Tuvalu. Close to 20 people were killed in the region. Including 5 young boys in Fiji who were swept away in a storm flood trying to save each other.
According to Professor Kevin Trenberth of the US National Centre for Atmospheric Research, the strength of the storm can be explained by the abnormally high sea surface temperatures around Vanuatu – 1-2C higher than average.
Known in the Philippines as Typhoon Chedeng, was the most powerful pre-April tropical cyclone on record in the Northwestern Pacific Ocean, causing severe impacts to the islands of Chuuk and Yap in the Federated States of Micronesia.The fourth named storm of the 2015 Pacific typhoon season, Maysak affected Yap and Chuuk in the Federated States of Micronesia, as well as the Philippines. The storm was responsible for five deaths in the Federated States of Micronesia alongside 10 injuries. Damage was estimated at $8.5 million (2015 USD).
Estimates from the Red Cross suggested that there were 5,000 people in desperate need of food.
India’s record heatwave
In May, India was hit by its second deadliest heatwave on record, and the fifth deadliest in world history, with 2,500 killed.
According to the National Disaster Management Authority of India, ‘Higher daily peak temperatures and longer, more intense heat waves are becomingly increasingly frequent globally due to climate change’.
Texas and Oklahoma
Oklahoma and Texas were hit by record flash floods this May, after each experienced their wettest months on record. At least 31 people were killed.
According to Tom Di Liberto, a meteorologist at NOAA, claimed while the role of climate change in these events is uncertain as yet, he did note that there has been an observed change in heavy precipitation across the US.
Pakistan’s deadly heatwave
Hit with temperatures as high as 49C, Pakistan witnessed the deaths of 2,000 of its citizens in June, mostly in the Sindh province and its capital Karachi.
Dr Rasul, Director General of Pakistan’s Meteorological Department, told RTCC: “I believe there are links to climate change.
“If we look at the history of heat waves, we can’t find such a prolonged case in that region.”
In July, temperatures soared throughout Western Europe.
Germany experienced its hottest day since records began whilst in France, thousands lost power as high temperatures causing electrical equipment to malfunction.
Professor Rahmstorf of the Potsdam Institute told RTCC: “There is clearly a systematic increase in heat extremes and the logical cause is global warming.”
When asked whether this year’s heat could be the result of the current El Nino, he said: “If we look at temperatures between 1950 and 1980, there is nothing close to the extreme heat of today, regardless of El Nino, so the effect of global warming is larger.”
Iran and Iraq heatwaves
Bearing the brunt of the Middle Eastern heatwave, parts of Iraq exceeded 50C in August. In response, the government called a four-day holiday.
Meanwhile, in Iran, temperatures exceeded 48C for 7 consecutive days. Coupled with high humidity, this resulted in a heat index of 73C in some parts.
When asked about the heatwaves in Iran and Iraq, Dr Karsten Haustein of the Environmental Change Institute in Oxford old RTCC: “What used to be a 1 in 50-100 year event is a 1 in 5 year event now.
“Hence longer lasting heatwave events have become 10-20 times more likely. It goes without saying that this change is due to human influences on the climate.”
After prolonged heavy rainfall in June, Ghana’s capital city Accra flooded, killing 25 directly and 200 through a petrol station explosion.
The self-styled Sunshine State is facing its most severe drought in a millennium. A State of Emergency has been called, sanctioning all necessary actions in preparation for water shortages.
When asked for comment by RTCC, experts at NOAA said it is too early to attribute California’s drought to climate change but directed us to an earlier report on the Californian droughts of 2013 and 2014.
This pointed to warm sea surface temperatures (caused by anthropogenic greenhouse gases) as a large factor in the probability of 21st century California droughts.
This week a study in the journal Geophysical Research Letters said human-induced climate change was intensifying the drought.
“A lot of people think that the amount of rain that falls out the sky is the only thing that matters,” said lead author Alton Williams, bioclimatologist at Columbia University.
“But warming changes the baseline amount of water that’s available to us, because it sends water back into the sky.”
Alaska’s warmest May
Temperatures in Alaska were 8.1F (4.5C) higher than average in May, making it the warmest May on record.
A report by the US Global Change Research Program shows that over the past 50 years, Alaska has warmed at more than twice the rate of the rest of the US, with an average temperature increase of 3.4F (1.9C).
Myanmar recently experienced its worst flooding in decades, with over one million “critically affected” according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Human Affairs.
“The recent floods in the region due to heavy monsoon rains, including the devastations we are currently witnessing in Myanmar are a grim reminder of the consequences of climate change and it is the poorest and most marginalized who are affected the most,” said Toily Kurbanov, UNDP Country Director
Brazil is experiencing its worst drought in 80 years. During its rainy season earlier this year, rainfall was 8 inches (20cm) lower than average.
According to a study published by the National Academy of Sciences, the southeast Amazon has dried by 25% since 2000.
Research points to deforestation as the major driver of drought in Brazil, as Dr Antonio Nobre from the National Institute for Atmospheric Research explains.
“The forests have an innate ability to import moisture, and to cool down and moisten the air and favour rain,” he said.
So best of luck. No really….
You keep making vague and indirect promises, having discussions and disagreements as how best to control me – while not losing any of your precious numbers on any of your precious screens of course.
I’ll keep doing my bad bad thing.
I would say “see you next year” – but it’s only August. I think I have a few more surprises yet.
Lots of love… your child,