Thursday, August 12, 2010

From Pak floods to Moscow smog, the disasters are linked

In Pakistan people are being winched to safety during floods - one of the country's worst ever natural disasters killing at least 15 hundred and affecting around 14 million. Survivors began observing the Muslim festival of Ramadan - instead of the usual celebrations - it's filled with misery and fears of an uncertain future.Soldiers battle against the damage caused by mudslides in China. Thunderstorms brought fresh misery to the northwestern region as the death toll from weekend flooding and landslides rose to 1,117.
Meanwhile, Russian authorities are struggling to cope with unprecedented high temperatures that's sparked forest fires on a scale barely recognisable there. 562 fires covering over 200 thousand acres are still burning.These cases of extreme weather are not isolated - according to the Washington-based - National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.Climate expert Tom Karl says the first seven months of this year saw the highest global temperatures since weather records began in 1880.Tom Karl, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Services, says, "Russia and central Asia this year happen to be the epicentres of very warm conditions this summer. To accompany those warm conditions, we're seeing very heavy precipitation in the monsoon areas in Pakistan. These events are not disconnected. The climate system is connected."According to scientists the floods, fires and feverish heat aren't a warning of climate change but in fact a sign it's already happening.Tom Karl adds, "The key here is that trying to look at the patterns of changes and seasonality of changes, when you try to put that all together and understand what might be causing the changes, you walk away with, if you were a betting person, 19 chances out of 20, humans are having a major impact on why we're seeing these records."The World Climate Research Programme is due to meet next month in Paris to discuss better ways of forecasting extreme weather. However, that will be little comfort to those currently enduring the effects of the worst weather nature can impose.