When nature 'strikes back', the world floods
Heavy rain and rising waters continue to claim lives in many countries across the world, from Australia to Venezuela.
While floods are a natural occurrence caused by storms, the human-caused climate catastrophe is exacerbating their impact. Rising sea levels are inundating coastal areas as a result of melting glaciers and thermal expansion of water, while warmer temperatures cause more moisture to concentrate in the atmosphere, which is subsequently discharged as rain or snow.
A year of terrible flooding may have reached its nadir in Pakistan, where a third of the nation was submerged by severe rainfall beginning in June, killing over 1,000 people in what UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres described as an unprecedented natural calamity.
Pregnant women and women who've given birth during the climate tragedy which is destroying Pakistan testify to the pain, struggle, and suffering they have endured during the floods which have sunken a third of the country under murky waters. pic.twitter.com/oJx7bdhdkA— Al Mayadeen English (@MayadeenEnglish) September 17, 2022
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According to scientists, flash floods are becoming a problem in several countries, with quick, heavy rainstorms causing everything from annoyance to mayhem. Some areas are being thrown back and forth between extreme drought and these sudden downpours, increasing the risk of mudslides and other negative consequences.
Floods like the ones seen this year from Australia to Nigeria are likely to become more prevalent as the planet warms. "We have waged war on the environment, and nature is hitting back, and in a horrible way," Guterres bemoaned in September after visiting Pakistan.
More than 600 dead in Nigeria
Nigeria has been besieged by the worst floods in a decade, devastating at least 18 of its 36 states and killing over 600 people, while displacing over a million internally.
The country's land use plan, disaster management, political inaction, and lack of investment in climate infrastructure are all factors to be blamed. Rainfall has become more unpredictable and heavy as a result of climate catastrophes.
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“To a large extent, most of Nigeria’s river flood plain has been mismanaged and has not been prioritized,” said Adedamola Ogunsesan, a project manager at the Nigerian Conservation Foundation. “The early warning system has not addressed how we are going to react when there is flooding. There was no clear-cut information on the procedure of evacuation and ensuring safety.”
Second ‘once-in-a-century’ flood in 11 years in parts of Australia
This month's heavy rain in southeast Australia has forced hundreds of people to flee their homes. At least 16 rivers in the states of New South Wales and Victoria, as well as the island state of Tasmania, have been flooded.
Riverine flooding overwhelmed Melbourne's western suburbs, while others struggled to evacuate cattle, dig trenches, and sandbag properties as rivers burst their banks.
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Flooding has occurred as a result of significant rain over places with full catchments and soils that have been saturated by two years of rainy La Nia summers. Some dams are at capacity for the first time in decades. Sydney has had its wettest year on record, while other districts have broken century-old October rainfall records. Melbourne received half of its typical monthly rainfall in a single hour on October 7.