El Niño Brings Misery For Thousands Of Homes Globally This Christmas
(3BL Media/Justmeans) – The El Niño climate phenomenon has been blamed for fueling a spate of recent natural disasters around the world, from flooding in northern England and Paraguay to bushfires in Australia to storms in Texas. The extreme weather events around the world over the Christmas holiday has given more weight to the idea that the world’s climate is changing. El Ninos emerge every four to seven years on average and run from October through to January. They are triggered by a shift in trade winds across the Pacific around the equator and Jerome Lecou, a climate expert at the French weather service Meteo France believes this is probably the most powerful El Niño in the last 100 years, noting that accurate measurements have only existed since the mid-20th century.
In South America, where El Niño flooding has been responsible for at least eight deaths, more than 144,000 people have been forced to flee their homes in Paraguay, as well as 20,000 in Argentina and several thousand in Uruguay and southern Brazil. The floods were caused by heavy rains and bulging rivers, and comes at the beginning of the southern hemisphere’s summer months. That means evacuees were also dealing with heat, humidity, mosquitoes and snakes that thrive in swamp-like conditions.
In Europe, thousands of homes in the north of England have been affected by severe flooding, some for the second or even third time in the past few years. The cost of the U.K.’s winter floods will top £5bn; thousands of families and businesses will face financial ruin because they have inadequate or non-existent insurance, a leading accountant has now warned. David Rooke, the Environment Agency’s deputy chief executive, said the U.K.’s climate was entering an era of unknown extremes, and that a complete rethink of flood protection and resilience across the country was needed.
There are still dozens of flood warnings and alerts in place across England, Wales and Scotland. In past weeks, more than 7,300 homes were flooded across the north of England as river levels reached record highs. Parts of northern England and north-east and central Scotland have been among the worst affected so far, with hundreds of people forced to leave their homes over Christmas and thousands left without power. "This naturally occurring El Nino and human-induced climate change may interact and modify each other in ways which we have never before experienced," Michel Jarraud, head of the World Meteorological Organisation in Geneva, noted last month.
In 2015 El Nino was credited with the largest number—nine—in the total of major Pacific hurricanes in a single season, along with the single most powerful hurricane ever recorded. President Obama and his administration have repeatedly asserted that climate change poses the greatest threat to the planet and future generations, not terrorism. Mr. Obama was prophetic when he said in his 2015 State of the Union address, “No challenge – no challenge – poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change.”