Planet Earth: Our Loving Home
 
Climate Change-Induced Calamities of 2011 – Earth’s Distress Signals      
Climate change is one of the key factors that are causing not only flood but other forms of disasters. Due to the climate change, we are experiencing heavy rain, whose intensity has gone up. Earlier the rainfall what we got within one week, now we are getting in one or two days.

Beneficent viewers, this is Planet Earth: Our Loving Home. This week we’ll discuss the horrific and often fatal effects of natural disasters caused by climate change. Highly dangerous storms, floods, wildfires, heat waves, droughts, extreme cold spells, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are taking place with increasing frequency and intensity across the globe.

The number of victims and the steep economic losses are climbing. According to Munich Re, a re-insurer or a company that insures insurance firms, during the first half of 2011, 350 disastrous natural events occurred around the world, claiming approximately 20,000 lives and costing US$265 billion. This dollar figure is the highest ever recorded in a year in terms of property damage and 2011 has not yet ended. The following are just some of the catastrophes that have occurred thus far.

TORNADOES AND CYCLONES

Climate change is believed to have aggravated an extreme, violent tornado outbreak in the United States that occurred between April 25 and 28, 2011. During this period an unprecedented 336 twisters tore through midwestern, southern and northeastern states, as well as southern Ontario, Canada, causing approximately 350 deaths. The estimated damage came close to US$10 billion. At the epicenter of the disasters was the city of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA where a tornado’s winds were measured at over 418 kilometers an hour.

I ran into the house and told my brother and his girlfriend I told her to get her dog. And we all ran into the bathroom, and got in the tub and we were all sitting there just praying. By the time I knew it - (it) tore everything up, everything was just damaged, destroyed. It was terrifying. Only thing I know, I’m happy to be alive, blessed.

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has noted that elevated ocean temperatures resulting from a hotter planet have very serious consequences. Their Fourth Assessment Report states, “It is likely that future tropical cyclones (typhoons and hurricanes) will become more intense, with larger peak wind speeds and more heavy precipitation associated with ongoing increases of tropical sea surface temperatures.”

In February 2011, Cyclone Yasi, a category-5 or the most powerful cyclone on the Australian Region Tropical Cyclone Intensity Scale, devastated parts of Queensland, Australia, forcing thousands to be evacuated as fierce winds and floodwaters caused extensive damage to buildings and homes.

It was the worst cyclone we’ve ever, ever seen. Our entire house, our property, our entire possessions all got taken in one minute when the cyclone took the roof off the house.

FLOODS

Human-induced global warming is also resulting in forceful rains and deadly flooding. Respected University of Victoria, Canada climatologist Dr. Andrew Weaver has stated, “We should continue to expect increased flooding associated with increased extreme precipitation because of increasing atmospheric greenhouse gas. And we have no one to blame but ourselves.”

According to statistics from the Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters, hydrological calamities in 2010 were by far the most frequent in recorded history, being responsible for 56.1% of the year’s total disaster events. The number of victims was nearly 190 million, almost double the yearly average for the last decade.

In December 2010 and early 2011 the eastern states of Australia -- Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and northern Tasmania -- experienced flooding brought on by the La Niña effect but with increased severity due to warmer ocean temperatures. In total, 35 people perished, and 200,000 were severely affected. The economic damage was estimated at up to US$31 billion.

We’d been through numerous floods already and that day the water was about half a meter on the ground. And next thing, my mum said, “What’s that?” She’s looking out the kitchen window. We’re looking and looking, we didn’t know what it was and then when I realized what it was, I just said, “Everyone, in the lounge-room now!”

I just thought we’re all going to die! The water kept coming and coming. It hit our place hard. All the debris just built up around the house. The flood hit us and the tsunami! And it came up and up and up and we just thought we were going to get washed away.

In January 2011, floods combined with landslides and mudslides ravaged Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the worst cataclysm of its kind in the nation’s history. The catastrophe took the lives of over 900 people. The cost of rebuilding roads, homes and infrastructure is estimated to be US$1.2 billion.

The flood was very sudden for those who did not know. In around 12 hours the river rose five meters. So it made families homeless very quickly. Many lost their belongings because there was no time to take it all out. The furniture was ruined, items were lost, and homes got damaged. We put homeless families in high schools, municipal gymnasiums. We have to have vehicles to move people, then we have to have canoes because there are times vehicles can’t reach it. People are taken by canoe.

On the world’s other continents, floods have also been disturbingly commonplace.

This year, there is a lot more water than any other year. It’s got to be related to global warming. There is no water for drinking or for usage. The tap water is gone. The electricity is out.

This place has never been flooded; for several hundred years it hasn’t been flooded. If only we could put our possessions at higher places. Who knew the flood would come all of a sudden; there was no way, it couldn’t be saved.

It was very devastating as you could see from the pictures on television. From the northern region, the entire Central Gonja district (Ghana) was submerged. If you come to the southern area, the Volta Region, it was very devastating. In Agona Swedru (Ghana), a lot of structures, bridges were washed away. Over 2,000 people were affected.

WILDFIRES

Uncontrollable wildfires are a frightening phenomenon on the rise. In May 2011, raging fires burned approximately 2,200 square kilometers of forests in Arizona, USA. Recorded as being the largest blaze in the state’s history, it demolished hundreds of homes and caused US$109 million in damage. In Russia, following 2010’s unprecedented forest fire outbreaks, more severe havoc struck the nation.

At the end of July 2011, fires had burned in more than 16,000 locations across Russia, with a total of 10,600 square kilometers of land charred. The most harmful fires struck the territories of Yakutia, Komi, Karelia, Khabarovsk, Krasnoyarsk, as well as the Vologda and Arkhangelsk regions.

DROUGHT

Climate change expert Dr. Richard Seager, a research professor at Columbia University, USA has noted: “The term ‘global warming’ does not do justice to the climatic changes the world will experience in coming decades. Some of the worst disruptions we face will involve water, not just temperature.”

Drought, or the prolonged lack of precipitation, leads to substantial agricultural losses, huge shortages of drinking water and famine. More than 12-million residents of Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia are currently suffering enormously from famine due to severe drought. This figure has risen 38% since March 2011.

In addition, drought is causing substantial property loss through soil subsidence, or sinking land, particularly in Europe. Unbalanced rainfall and evaporation change soil moisture, making it swell and shrink repeatedly, leading to destructive collapse. In France alone, subsidence-related damage has increased by 50% over the last 20 years, costing the affected regions an average of €340 million annually. These events will inevitably grow in frequency due to an increasingly hot planet.

EXTREME COLD

Computer modeling done by US government researchers demonstrated that climate change will lead to longer and more extreme cold spells at the end of the century. However, the impact of unnaturally frigid temperatures can be seen right now. One such event affected the tropical nation of Bangladesh in early January 2011, resulting in at least 11 fatalities due to the abnormally chilly conditions. Travel and other daily activities were disrupted, and children and the elderly particularly suffered due to the adverse weather.

Nageswari Upazila as well as Kurigram District is situated in a region around the foot of the Himalayas. People are very poor here. During winter a man has nothing but a single quilt to protect him. This is the case for most of the people. So these people suffer a lot during winter and a number of people die from cold each year.

EARTHQUAKES AND VOLCANIC ACTIVITY

The rapid melting of glaciers and ice sheets due to global warming has a rebound effect on the Earth’s crust, meaning the crust rises to its original position, provoking earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. In March 2011, a massive 9.0-magnitude earthquake centered off the northeastern coast of Japan and accompanying tsunami left approximately 15,600 dead, 5,700 injured and close to 6,000 missing. The ruinous temblor was the world’s fourth strongest since 1900.

In an instant, I witnessed electric wires, houses, and other various things being swept away at one blow. Not only the mere sight of the tsunami was terrible, but the sound was extremely fearful.

On February 22, 2011, New Zealand's second most populous city, Christchurch, was rocked by the most destructive of the more than 7,400 aftershocks that followed the 7.1 magnitude earthquake that struck the region in September 2010. The February event, which was a 6.3 magnitude quake, sent people running in panic and caused a total of 181 deaths.

This whole community over here still doesn’t have fresh, clean water, sewage, or any power, so as you can appreciate, cooking and the basic needs are very essential.

On June 13, 2011, another aftershock of magnitude 6.3 hit the city, causing additional damage. Mount Bulusan in Sorsogon Province, the Philippines erupted in February 2011, ejecting a plume of ash up to two kilometers high and forcing over 3,600 families to be evacuated from their homes in an effort to ensure their safety.

The effects of this ash fall to the livelihood of the people are too great. How could they maintain their subsistence, since their source of living is almost destroyed by these ashes? Their source of drinking water, of course, is also affected.

The natural disasters we’ve examined today are just a fraction of the events that have occurred thus far in 2011. Is there anything that can be done about the Earth’s distress signals? Yes. We can take steps now to minimize and even eliminate future calamities. Following an organic, plant-based diet is the simplest and quickest way to stop the effects of climate change.

A wholesale, worldwide adoption of this lifestyle would produce a highly beneficial, cooling effect on Earth and end the enormous levels of methane and other toxic greenhouse gases being produced by the environmentally destructive animal product industries, restoring balance to our planetary home.

Eco-conscious viewers, thank you for joining us on today’s program. May the guidance of Providence always be with every being.

  Planting New Trees in Colombia: A Breath of Fresh Air for the World (In Spanish) 
 Harmful Algal Blooms: Devastating Domoic Acid 

 
  
 
Non Subtitle Videos
 
Most popular
 Vegan: The Fastest Way to a Cooler Planet
 Saving Drylands: COP10 United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification
 Dr. Rajendra K. Pachauri-Global Warning: The Impact of Meat Production and Consumption on Climate Change
 Dr. Robert Goodland on Climate Change and the Destructive Livestock Industry
 “Changes in Climate, Changes in Lives” - A Message from Greenpeace Brasil, (In Portuguese)
 Lester Brown on Global Ecological Destruction and Imminent Civilization Collapse
 Harmful Algal Blooms: Devastating Domoic Acid
 "Home": An Eco-Documentary by Yann Arthus-Bertrand
 Ahimsa Agriculture:Organic Farming without Soil
 The Magic of Findhorn: An Eco Eden on Earth