Climate Change Is Worsening Natural Disasters Around The US

Matt Lillywhite

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"If it seems like natural disasters are happening more and more often, that's because they are: Climate change has helped drive a fivefold increase in the number of weather-related disasters in the last 50 years," according to NPR.

New York Times analysis of satellite images dating back to 1979 shows global warming has increased the likelihood of a hurricane developing into a Category 3 or higher, with sustained winds of more than 110 miles per hour, by about 8% per decade. "The trend is there, and it is real," said James P. Kossin from NOAA. "There's this remarkable building of this body of evidence that we're making these storms more deleterious."

It's worth mentioning that climate change is making hurricanes in the United States stronger and more costly. With 21 named storms, the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season was the third most active on record in the United States. Hurricane Ida alone caused more than $60 billion in total damages across Texas, New York, and several other states, making it one of the five most expensive storms on record in the United States since 1980.

Climate change increases the likelihood of hot, dry weather, which fuels wildfires in California, Oregon, and several other states. According to the EPA (a government agency), "Multiple studies have found that climate change has already led to an increase in wildfire season length, wildfire frequency, and burned area. The wildfire season has lengthened in many areas due to factors including warmer springs, longer summer dry seasons, and drier soils and vegetation. Similarly, climate change threatens to increase the frequency, extent, and severity of fires through increased temperatures and drought."

Sadly, climate change is likely to continue worsening natural disasters over the next few years and decades. Researchers have discovered that the dangers of global climate change increase significantly at 1.5 degrees of warming, per the New York Times. Hundreds of millions around the world are likely to face water scarcity as a result of severe droughts. Some animal and plant species that are alive today will eventually become extinct. Also, coral reefs, which support significant portions of the world's fisheries, would see more regular mass extinctions.

"We can expect a significant jump in extreme weather over the next 20 or 30 years," said Piers Forster, who is a climate scientist at the University of Leeds. "Things are unfortunately likely to get worse than they are today."

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