We’re in the last month of 2019 and world leaders are in Madrid for international climate negotiations at the COP25. Here’s a look at where their efforts landed the Earth. In easy words, the horrific picture that is the cost of climate change in 2019.
The policymakers of the world are up for an annual session of emission bargain in Madrid. As they pretend to be serious about averting the catastrophic climate change and natural disasters, the latest 2019 report from the United Nations tells us there is almost no change in the alarming situation.
Greenhouse gas emissions still rise perilously. The UN Environment Program’s Emissions Gap Report said, “The summary findings are bleak”. Nations and their political leaders have utterly failed to stop the rising emission levels. And the human cost of climate change continues to rise.
In the latest report, the summary findings are bleak and world leaders have utterly failed to stop the rising emission levels.
Cost of Climate Change in 2019
So, as they again indulge in fruitless diplomacy, here’s a reminder and a picture of where that led the global population and what was the human cost of climate change in 2019.
Southern African Drought
The southern part of Africa is experiencing one of the worst stretches of droughts in history. Water shortages and pressing food insecurity mean at least 2 million people face starvation in Botswana and Zimbabwe.
UNICEF has warned that the climate change-induced disaster will leave close to 5.5 million rural Zimbabweans in need of humanitarian aid by April 2020.
Watch: Southern Africa’s deadly drought:
The most powerful tropical cyclone on record and the worst natural disaster to hit the Bahamas in history, the powerful Atlantic Ocean hurricane with peak wind speeds of 295 km/h destroyed thousands of homes and left 61 dead.
As of today, over 400 people are still missing. Dorian left behind $7 billion in property damage.
Watch: Hurricane Dorian batters the Bahamas:
Europe endured a period of exceptionally hot weather that killed 567 people in June and 869 in July. The high temperatures toppled all previous records. Thousands of farm animals were also lost.
The Netherlands reported 400 excess deaths in the week of the heatwave while France saw 868 deaths in July. Around 321 million people were affected in a number of European countries.
Watch: Record temperatures amid heatwave around Europe:
Known as Typhoon Hanna in the Philippines, Lekima became the second-costliest typhoon in Chinese history. It killed more than 90 people and affected millions in the Philippines, China, the Ryukyu Islands, and Taiwan.
Typhoon Lekima left behind over US$9.26 billion in damages and destroyed tens of thousands of homes.
Watch: Typhoon Lekima wreaks havoc in China:
Widespread flash flooding from mid-March to April 2019 affected 26 of Iran’s 31 provinces. The floods killed at least 70 people and damaged 1,900 cities and villages. More than 140 rivers burst their banks and Iran saw 409 landslides.
Flash flooding damaged around 12,000 km or 36% of Iran’s national road network and caused $2.2 billion in damages with the agricultural industry suffering the most. The climate change-induced disaster left two million people in dire need of humanitarian aid.
Watch: Iran Floods: Homes and people swept away:
Nepal saw flash floods affecting widespread areas in Terai and capital Kathmandu. Heavy rainfall caused disruption in many areas and a death toll of at least 113.
There was also a massive loss of livestock, damage to property and collapse of highways. The floods affected millions of people in the Kathmandu valley.
Watch: Deadly monsoon floods and landslides hit Nepal:
Widespread flash flooding from February to April 2019 affected large parts of Pakistan. Many villages and several cities were evacuated. More than 1,500 families were rescued alone in Balochistan.
Roofs collapsed amid heavy rains and flash flooding in provinces of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan, and Punjab claimed more than 140 lives. Due to rain, flood and storm casualties are still increasing in Pakistan.
Watch: Millions at risk from flooding in Pakistan:
Further with rising seas as one of the consequences of climate change, several floods hit Vietnam in May and August 2019, destroying tens of houses and flash floods killing over 40 people.
Hundreds of households near the Đăk Kar reservoir were evacuated fearing collapse. Damages due to flooding in South-Central Vietnam reached 43.5 million USD.
Watch: Deadly flooding and landslides hit Vietnam:
A series of floods hit more than thirteen states between July and October 2019. Over a million people were displaced and more than 1600 lost their lives in the heaviest monsoon in the last 25 years. Total damage was pegged at 3,78,247.
2,00,000 people were evacuated in Karnataka and over one hundred thousand people in Kerala. Over a lac people were evacuated in other states. 4.24 hundred thousand people affected in Maharashtra alone.
Watch: Floods in Kerala, India, destroy homes:
Torrential rains and flash floods engulfed the Jayapura Regency of Papua, Indonesia killing at least 113 people and displacing over 11,000. The total damage was estimated at US$31.8 million. Around 12,000 households were damaged in nine villages, three bridges were destroyed.
In the Indonesian province of South Sulawesi, the worst flooding in a decade killed at least 68 and displaced thousands. Tens of thousands were evacuated from 78 villages. Thousands of houses and 28,000 acres of farmland were inundated. The financial damages were estimated at USD 7 million.
Watch: Thousands displaced after severe Indonesian floods:
A severe second-longest ever recorded heatwave hit India and Pakistan from mid-May to mid-June 2019. It coincided with extreme droughts and water shortages. More than 184 people died in the Indian state of Bihar alone. Reservoirs ran dry, depriving millions in Chennai.
The water crisis caused protests, fights, killing and stabbing. While total fatality is unknown, the 2003 European heatwave with temperatures slightly less killed an estimated 35,000–70,000 people.
Watch: Heatwaves grip large parts of India:
The strongest tropical cyclone to strike India since 1999. At least a million people were evacuated in India and Bangladesh. Fani killed at least 89 people and caused about US$8.1 billion in damages.
The cyclone adversely affected electricity supply and telecommunication and destroyed many villages and hundreds of houses. The cyclone destroyed about 160,000 acres of farmland and agricultural loss stood at US$4.6 million.
Watch: Cyclone Fani leaves trail of devastation:
Continuing with the horrific picture of climate change, very severe cyclonic storm struck Vietnam, the Indian state of West Bengal and Bangladesh in November 2019.
It caused storm surge, heavy rains, and flash floods with winds up to 135 km/h. Falling trees, collapsed houses, boat capsizing and illnesses caused over 40 deaths and affected thousands. Total financial loss stood at 3.2 Billion USD.
Watch: Losses from Cyclone Bulbul:
One of the worst tropical cyclones on record to affect Africa and the Southern Hemisphere, Idai caused a catastrophe in Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Malawi. It left more than 1,300 dead and hundreds missing. Idai is the second deadliest tropical cyclone ever recorded.
Strong winds and severe flooding affected more than 3 million others. It triggered a major humanitarian crisis with hundreds of thousands of people in need. A further cholera outbreak affected 4,000. Total damages from Cyclone Idai are pegged at least $2.2 billion.
Watch: Destruction from Cyclone Idai in Mozambique:
A Hopeless Future
The Earth’s two biggest polluters China and the United States have further increased their emissions since 2018.
The authors of the latest UN study said: “deeper and faster cuts are now required”.
Unfortunately, the International Climate Negotiations in Madrid won’t even address the gap between reality and what our diplomats claim to be doing. Instead, the 2019 COP25 removes the last remaining regulations from the 2015 Paris climate accord where every country had to pledge and then curb emissions. However, the devastation and horrific picture of climate change is clear in the cost the global population has had to pay in 2019.
The COP25 2019 might be one of the final nails in the coffin of the efforts to reverse climate change-induced disasters. National interests have won against global interests. And that’s where the global fight against climate change has reached. What COP25 does is just underscore and affirm this fact.