Climate Change Around the World

Comparison of Pakistan flood

Have you been following the climate news coming from Pakistan?

Mass flooding. One-third of the country underwater. One million homes damaged. Thirty million people impacted. Ninety percent of the country’s crops destroyed. Daily routines have been brought to a halt as the population struggles to survive and find the basic necessities of life.

Monsoon season has raged there since June, and it’s a monsoon season beyond the ordinary. Summer monsoons mean humid weather and plenty of rainfall, but this year that rainfall has dumped a more-than-usual amount of precipitation on the country, causing widespread flooding that in turn stresses the country’s infrastructure. Dams fail and embankments are breached as all that water flows.

Why? Because of climate change.

It’s difficult to point to any one weather event and say yes, this was caused by human-driven climate change, but it’s becoming easier and easier to study the weather patterns of the last couple decades and see that major weather events are becoming more common and more extreme. Just 12 years ago, Pakistan experienced another catastrophic flood during a severe monsoon season. These events are increasing in frequency.

Pakistan flooding 2010
A Chinook in Company B, Task Force Raptor, 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, TF Falcon, flies over a bridge destroyed by flood waters, Aug. 11, in the Swat valley, Pakistan. (Photo by U.S. Army Sgt. Monica K. Smith, 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, Task Force Falcon)

As natural patterns are upset by rising temperatures in the air and oceans, we see heat waves, drought, floods, and intense storms, all related to Earth’s changing climate.

The recent Inflation Reduction Act does set a path forward that focuses on reducing emissions by 40 percent. It offers incentives to people and businesses looking to move toward clean energy. The state of California recently declared that it wasn’t going to allow the sale of gas-powered cars by 2035, and several other states are considering similar moves. All of these are major steps forward.

But they are also slow steps. What’s the world going to be like in 2035? Will there still be time to avoid the worse-case climate change scenarios? What will life be like for people living in the poorest countries, which don’t have the resources to handle climate-related crises?

These are the very human questions that we need to explore whenever we talk about climate change. Yes, we’re all looking to a future changed by our actions of the past, but some populations are going to fare better simply because the country they live in is wealthier and can pay for relocation, temporary housing, food distribution, and fast-tracked climate solutions (once those are agreed upon).

But countries that don’t have access to wealth are in deeper trouble. It’s up to all of us to keep this inequality in mind when studying climate change. It’s not just a scientific problem with scientific solutions, it’s a societal problem with people-centered solutions.

So let’s work harder at finding them.

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