While the world sways through another summer of extreme weather, experts notice something else: The onslaught of 2021 hits more strongly and in places spared from the wrath of global warming in the past.
Affluent countries like the United States, Canada, Germany and Belgium join poorer and more vulnerable nations in a growing list of extreme weather events that scientists say are linked in some way to man-made climate change.
“It is not only a poor-country problem — it’s now very obviously a rich-country problem,” said Debby Guha-Sapir, founder of the International Disaster Database at the Centre for Disaster Epidemiology Research, in Leuven, Belgium.
Deadly floods hit China, but hundreds also drowned in parts of Germany and Belgium unaccustomed to flooding.
Canada and the US Pacific Northwest had “frightening” heat temperatures, well beyond triple digits on thermometers, breaking records and being accompanied by unusual wildfires.
Besides tragic floods and fire incidents, heat waves pose a significant risk that must be prepared for in the future, Guha-Sapir said.
What happens to American hurricane and fire seasons drives year-end statistics of the total damages incurred due to weather disasters, said Ernst Rauch, climate and geoscientist at insurance giant Munich Re. This year, richer territories have undergone the largest economic losses to date.
Tropical Storm #Elsa has formed in the central tropical Atlantic – the 5th named storm of 2021 Atlantic #hurricane season to date. Elsa is earliest calendar year 5th Atlantic named storm on record, breaking old record set last year by Edouard (July 6). pic.twitter.com/j5Uzi7BVbh
— Philip Klotzbach (@philklotzbach) July 1, 2021