Is Flooding the new Normal?
As if the pandemic wasn’t enough to deal with, floods and other extreme climate emergencies have caused the world to buckle under the strain. We are literally experiencing an ongoing global Polycrisis.
July and August 2021 were particularly bad months for the planet, which saw flooding in countries like Germany, Turkey, China, India and New Zealand. Lives were lost and homes were completely destroyed. In September 2021 flash floods in Nigeria saw cholera cases rising dramatically while flash floods in the Catalonia region of Spain caused power supply interruptions to about 10,000 residents.
From news sites around the world, we are hearing more and more about flooding. It now begs the question: is flooding the new normal?
Climate scientists were shocked at the devastation caused by the recent floods. While they have been warning us for years that human emissions would cause more extreme weather conditions, I don’t think anyone anticipated the extent of the damage we’ve seen.
Deadliest type of weather
Believe it or not, but floods are considered the deadliest type of extreme weather. While coastal and river floods can cause massive destruction, storm surges are an extremely dangerous form of flooding as it can cause large coastal areas to flood very quickly. Storm surge is literally the most dangerous aspect of any tropical system, posing the greatest threat to life and property.
Floods are devastating to everyone affected, causing not only death but economic and social problems too. From disruption to communication towers and power plants to road closures and collapsed bridges, floods can literally wipe out entire communities. It can take years for these communities to recover from the devastation that floods cause. Besides the obvious economic impacts, the psychological trauma suffered by people affected by floods often lasts a lifetime. Add to that the dangerous stew of toxic chemicals, sewage and waste that affects drinking water for months after a flood, heightening the risk of contamination, disease and environmental hazards.
Read our blog about dangerous pathogens found in rivers
While heavy rainfall, overflowing rivers, broken dams, storm surge and tsunamis all cause flooding, we have to take a closer look at what is causing weather patterns around the world to become so extreme.
According to scientists, climate change, which is accelerating at an alarming rate, is causing extreme weather patterns around the world. This has quite literally left us vulnerable.
If floods are the new normal, how are we, as a society, going to tackle this? To be honest, I think we are beyond policies now.
What we need are improved early warning systems, better-coordinated response teams and much more aggressive steps in dealing with the climate crisis. In essence, we need a two-fold approach. We need to improve infrastructures to accommodate extreme weather, since physical infrastructures are not built for extreme weather conditions, and we need global unity in fighting climate change.
We don’t want to be alarmists, but if we look at the devastation caused by the recent floods, and the fact that this is something that appears to be the new normal, what really lies ahead for us down the road?
Short-term solutions like having insurance against flooding may seem like a good plan – for those who can afford it. But we also need to research our locations to assess flood risks. If we are located on flood plains we need to have proper evacuation plans in place and we need to be fully prepared by having well-stocked first aid kits, plenty of clean drinking water set aside, constant access to flood and emergency notifications and a way to quickly get to drier ground.
While world leaders are the ones that can implement policies that can force industries to adopt cleaner practices that can effectively slow down climate change, we as citizens really need to drive this process.
It is common knowledge by now that extractive industries are the main culprits of climate change. And they don’t seem to be slowing down either. Greenwashing abounds while populations buy into the deceptions. It seems pretty easy to slap a “sustainable” label onto products to both increase sales and literally dupe consumers into thinking they are buying “green” products. Educating ourselves and reading labels properly can mean the end of greenwashing. If we would only take that bold step.
Accepting extreme weather as the new normal while doing nothing to change the way we are currently living makes absolutely no sense at all.
“Some people say that I should study to become a climate scientist so that I can “solve the climate crisis”. But the climate crisis has already been solved. We already have all the facts and solutions. All we have to do is to wake up and change.”
— Greta Thunberg
Very profound words from the climate activist herself. And she is right. We already have all the facts, scientists have been telling us about climate change for years. Now it’s literally time to wake up and change.
Here are 3 things you can do, starting today:
- Join a campaign or movement that focuses on environmental issues and make your voice heard. That could mean getting more involved in community forums, getting environmental petitions signed and presenting them to politicians or working with your community to combat plastic pollution. (The Planet Calls is a global platform advocating for sustainability and a circular economy seeking volunteers, and they are doing everything they can to fight plastic pollution and climate change).
- Be conscious of the way you travel. Flying has a negative impact on the environment so rather take a bus or train. Oftentimes the 2 hours you spent checking in at the airport, going through security and the inevitable delays that go with flying means that taking a train or bus could essentially take the same amount of And even if it takes one or two more hours than flying, just think of your reduced carbon footprint. Instead of driving to work, you could take public transport instead. Or bike to work. Every bit counts towards reducing emissions. Should you find that flying is your only option, fly economy class and consider offsetting your carbon emissions.
- You can also reduce your energy use at home and at the office by switching off light and appliances when not in use and switching to LED light bulbs.
Admittedly, we probably aren’t going to make drastic emissions cuts to significantly slow down the rising temperatures, but collectively we can bring more attention to climate change through individual action. After all, every bit helps!