Climate change and extreme weather: is this the new normal?
In the past fortnight, the world has watched a remarkable succession of record-breaking natural disasters devastate cities and communities around the world. From monsoonal flooding in South Asia to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma in the US and the Caribbean, many are asking what’s driving the formation of these catastrophic weather events.
Nic talked with climate scientist Dr David Alexander from the Climate Council about how human activities – namely the burning of fossil fuels – are warming oceans and the atmosphere, creating the conditions for more intense, more unpredictable tropical storms. Hurricane Harvey, which recently inundated Houston, has been described as a one in 25,000 year rainfall event.
These events have enormous human costs, tearing families apart, flattening infrastructure and placing enormous demands on government. The recovery and rebuilding effort in the USA alone following Hurricanes Harvey and Irma is expected to cost over $USD100 billion.
Australia is also set for a volatile summer of weather, after recording its driest winter on record. Scientists are forecasting elevated bushfire risks due to an abundance of dry fuel, along with an increase in dangerous summer heatwaves.