Why we’re more confident than ever that climate change is driving disasters

300 million delta dwellers vulnerable to cyclones, flooding

Partially submerged village in the mangrove-covered delta region the Sunderbans, some 100 km south of Kolkata, in May 2009 after a cyclone tore into the northern coast of the Bay of Bengal

More than 300 million people in low-lying river deltas, mostly in poorer nations, are exposed to flooding from tropical storms made more deadly and destructive by global warming, researchers said Tuesday.

One in ten live on floodplains hit by once-a-century cyclones that can generate 350-kilometer (200-mile) per hour winds and up to a meter (40 inches) of rain per day, they reported in Nature Communications.

Warmer oceans and more moisture in the atmosphere mean these powerful storms may become more frequent, including in regions rarely touched by their terrible power in the past.

Densely populated deltas where rivers meet the sea are especially vulnerable to flooding caused by such warm-weather monsters, which crisscross the world’s major oceans in summer and fall.

As the reality of climate change sinks in, policymakers must figure out not only how to slow rising temperatures but also prepare for inevitable climate impacts already in the pipeline….

Why we’re more confident than ever that climate change is driving disasters

Back in 2017, record-breaking hurricanes like Maria and wildfires like Tubbs hammered the United States. But the specific role of long-term global warming was a tentative part of the discussion, with scientists speaking of it cautiously, in broad strokes.

Compare that with 2020, where researchers now have far more data showing just how much climate change affects the frequency and likelihood of heat waves (and fires that follow them), ocean heat waves, droughts, and intense storms. That has risen alongside a growing public awareness of how climate change is playing out. A 2019 Pew Research poll found that 62 percent of Americans said climate change was impacting their local community. CBS News reported that a majority of Americans now believe climate change is contributing to extreme weather.

In turn, more public officials and media personalities are directly connecting climate change to some of the disasters underway….

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