Aid workers now say that almost 14 million people have been affected since the unusually heavy rainfall began 11 days ago in Pakistan, with at least 6 million people urgently in need of aid.
Reuters also report that the United Nations says in terms of the number of people affected and who will need short- or long-term help, the floods are worse than the 2004 tsunami, which killed 236,000 people around the Indian Ocean.
Much worse is expected to come.
Aid workers warn that the number affected could increase with water surging south into Sindh province. There are reports that 2,500 villages have already been flooded in the region.
It’s also worth repeating that this is exactly what happens when you have global warming: we will see more extreme weather conditions across the world. Reuters again:
For the current floods, rainfall of about 400 millimetres (16 inches) in mountainous areas in the far north of Pakistan and adjoining parts of Afghanistan between July 28 and 29 triggered a torrent of water down the Indus and Kabul Rivers.
“That was a record,” said Qamar-uz-Zaman Chaudhry, director-general of the Pakistan Meteorological Department. “The only explanation can be the link to climate change. Because that area very rarely receives monsoon rains,” he told Reuters, pointing to the risk of the monsoon belt shifting as well as changes in the intensity of the monsoon.
Note what a major US Department of Defense report said earlier this year:
First, climate change will shape the operating environment, roles, and missions that we undertake. The U.S. Global Change Research Program, composed of 13 federal agencies, reported in 2009 that climate-related changes are already being observed in every region of the world, including the United States and its coastal waters.
Among these physical changes are increases in heavy downpours, rising temperature and sea level, rapidly retreating glaciers, thawing permafrost, lengthening growing seasons, lengthening ice-free seasons in the oceans and on lakes and rivers, earlier snowmelt, and alterations in river flows.
Assessments conducted by the intelligence community indicate that climate change could have significant geopolitical impacts around the world, contributing to poverty, environmental degradation, and the further weakening of fragile governments. Climate change will contribute to food and water scarcity, will increase the spread of disease, and may spur or exacerbate mass migration.
We can expect much more of this – and not just in South Asia but increasingly across the Western world.
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Filed in: Environmentalism