Thunder and fury: Hurricane Ida’s record-breaking rainfall brought New York’s public transportation system to a halt, much like Hurricane Sandy in 2012 | Photo: NY Post

Hurricane Ida hits US, triggers record-breaking rainfall, destroys homes

More than 50 people lost their lives after Hurricane Ida hit the US state of Louisiana on August 29. While the storm weakened as it moved up north, it triggered flash floods on the East Coast. The hurricane caused record-breaking rainfall. New York’s Central Park recorded 3.1 inches of rainfall per hour. Social media was inundated with photos of water gushing through public transportation systems and homes in New York and New Jersey. 

Oil production in the Gulf of Mexico was also suspended as a result of the hurricane. More than a million residents remained without power as of Sunday. The US Coast Guard also said it was investigating nearly 350 oil spill reports in the Gulf of Mexico in the aftermath of the hurricane. 

Experts linked human-induced climate change for the intensity with which Hurricane Ida hit North America. Its intensity and the record-breaking rainfall was a result of warmer-than-normal waters in the Gulf of Mexico, they said. The US Gulf Coast, including Louisiana, is now bracing for Hurricane Larry this week. 

Study finds 18% tree species in India face threat of extinction; links it to climate crisis

A global tree assessment found around 18% of India’s tree species face the possibility of extinction. The assessment published by Botanic Gardens Conservation International in London identified 2,603 plant species in India. Of these, the study stated 650 species are endemic, while 469 are threatened. Globally, 30% of the 58,497 tree species found worldwide face extinction, the study found. At least 142 species are already extinct, according to the assessment.  

The study stated the climate crisis had a measurable impact on these species. Other reasons listed for this threat were forest clearance for infrastructure projects, other forms of habitat loss such as for timber and medicines, and invasive pests and diseases. In the Indo-Malaya region, which includes India, the study found 41 tree species were already extinct. 

Number of extreme weather events increased five-fold in 50 years: UN study

A new UN report stated the number of extreme weather events across the globe have increased five-fold in the past 50 years. According to the report titled Atlas of Mortality and Economic Losses from Weather, Climate and Water Extremes (1970–2019), between 1970 and 1979, 771 disasters linked to the climate were reported. This number jumped to 3,165 between 2010 and 2019, the report stated. Between 1970 and 2019, extreme weather events linked to climate accounted for 50% of all disasters, 45% of all reported deaths and 74% of all reported economic losses. The good news, however, is that the number of deaths in that time period decreased almost three-fold – from 50,000 in the 1970s to 20,000 in the 2010s, thanks to early warning systems and disaster management, according to the report. Economic losses, however, increased seven-fold – from an average of $49 million in the 1970s to $383 million per day globally. 

The same report found every third death from extreme weather, climate and water stress over the past 50 years was in Africa. This despite the continent accounting for only 17% of the global population. The WMO’s Atlas of Mortality and Economic Losses from Weather, Climate and Water Extremes (1970–2019) found the four major droughts that occurred on the continent in 1973, 1981 and 1983 led to 89% of the total deaths in Africa from extreme weather, climate and water stress over the past 50 years. The continent, however, accounted for only 1% of the global economic losses from such events. 

Madagascar on the verge of world’s first climate-induced famine: UN

Madagascar is on the brink of the world’s first climate-induced famine, the United Nations (UN) said. Four years without rain has left the country with “catastrophic” levels of  hunger and food insecurity, according to the UN. The worst drought the country has seen in the past 40 years has also destroyed lone farming communities in south Madagascar where residents are being forced to hunt for insects in order to survive. The UN estimated around 30,000 people are suffering through Level 5 food insecurity, which is the highest recognised level internationally. 

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