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This year, severe weather events impacted several regions around the
world—proof of the ever-growing threat of Climate Change. Fittingly enough, it was also this year when nation leaders gathered in Paris to finalize sustainable programs that will mitigate the effects of Climate Change.
1. Deadly Heat Wave
The heat wave in India broke headlines as the death toll climbed to more than 2,300 in the most affected states— Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
Data from the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) confirmed the intensity of the heat wave. In May, a scorching 43 degrees Celsius was recorded, enough to melt the pavement in New Delhi. The heat wave was observed for five consecutive days, and was considered to be the decade’s worst. It was also declared as the 5th deadliest heat wave in world history by the Indian Meteorological Department.
In June, a blistering 49 degrees Celsius was recorded in Pakistan, causing 2,000 casualties. Hot weather is a normal phenomenon in Pakistan during thesummer, but what made it worse was the power interruption that prevented people to seek relief in electric fans and air conditioning.
2. Worst Drought
According to NOAA, October 2015 was the warmest October ever recorded in the 136-year period. Droughts are among the inevitable impacts of dry days or less rainfall.
In 80 years, Brazil experienced the worst drought, where parts of Amazon had dried up by 25% since the year 2000.
In Central Valley, California where 40% of the US’s fruits, nuts and vegetables
came from, farmers resorted to drilling for water. According to scientists, the amount of snow in the Sierra Nevada was at its lowest in more than 500 years last September. California Governor Jerry Brown issued mandatory water restrictions in an effort to reduce water usage by 25% percent.
In August, the state of Washington suffered from wildfire, considered to be the largest of its kind this year. Upon the declaration of a federal emergency, soldiers were called in to help the firefighters. 170 homes were destroyed.
Last November, 6,000 fires in California were documented, burning more
than 300,000 acres. Due to the intense fires in the Amador and Calavares counties, a state of emergency was declared.
On Christmas Day, more than 100 houses were eaten up by wildfire in
Australia. The blaze occurred in the Victoria State’s Great Ocean Road and according to authorities, it could continue burning for weeks.
Another story that made it to the headlines is the forest fire in Indonesia that caused a haze blanketing Southeast Asia, back in August. For months, the forest fire in Indonesia blazed, said to be caused by corporations and small-scale farmers engaging in slash-and-burn methods or kaingin.
Kalimantan (Borneo) and Western Sumatra were among the worst hit areas.
The haze reached Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Philippines.
Approximately, 500,000 cases of respiratory tract infections were reported in all the affected countries due to the air quality. In the Philippines, during the onslaught of Lando (international name Koppu), haze was reported in Zamboanga, Davao, Cotabato and Cebu.
4. Severe Flooding
In October, Hurricane Joaquin induced torrential rains that ensued
widespread flooding in South Carolina, resulting to 17 casualties. Around 400,000 people were affected by the floods.
In November, three times the average rainfall fell in Chennai in India, and in December, nearly 16 inches of rain fell within a two-day period. Known as the 5th largest city, Chennai was submerged in flood water, forcing the Chennai Airport, Southern Railway, as well as roads and highways, to close down.
Tens of thousands of people were trapped in floodwaters.
In late April, a magnitude 7.8 earthquake shook Nepal, killing more than 9,000 people. 23,000 residents were confirmed injured, while 450,000 were displaced. Aside from the 30 historical landmarks that were totally damaged in Kathmandu Valley, thousands of buildings, houses and shrines were also destroyed.
A magnitude 8.3 earthquake struck off the coast of Chile in September.
Though no tsunami was monitored, a tsunami alert was issued for early
preparation. According to the Ministry of Chile, 20 people were injured and an estimated 1 million residents evacuated their homes.
The force of nature is inescapable; everyone is at its mercy. What we can do is to learn from these past disasters so we can better prepare for future impacts. As we mitigate the effects of Climate Change, so should we strengthen our disaster preparedness.