Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) published a video today documenting the extreme weather events that have marked 2011 so far. We’ve still got a few months left, but already saw a year with record breaking heat conditions, droughts, floods, hurricanes, and snowfall across the United States.
The video is dramatic and certainly well constructed to drive home a point: extreme weather events and natural disasters are on the rise. Now, as a scientist, I’ll be the first one to point out that correllation does not imply causation. Yes, we have seen a steady increase in natural diasters in recent years. However, it might be a leap of faith to definitively tie those to climate change. As someone with an extreme distaste for climate deniers it does pain me to say that, but it remains true.
That said: I do not disagree with the punch line of EDF’s video. We need to be thinking ahead, and we need to take action. A natural disaster is defined as the intersection of an extreme, unexpected event and human life. As Kara pointed out in a recent post, the Earth’s population is poised to reach 7 billion. People are making their homes and cultivating lives in more corners of the world than ever – some of which are bound to be inhospitable places. We live in deserts, in areas prone to drough, in flood plains, on tiny islands, along known fault lines that are bound to slip, and at the feet of active volcanoes. As long as there continue to be more of us, and we continue to spread, this is going to happen. And, if the link is correct between natural disasters and climate change, then we will see an even more dramatic increase.
You can check the video out here: