• Liv Jules

Natural Disasters and How Climate Change Affects It

Updated: Dec 2, 2021

Written by Olivia Juliano — 
Multimedia Package by:
Olivia Juliano,
Samantha Sayles,
Abigail Ferguson and Dan Jaros.

This piece is part of our Multimedia Package project, where we surface the effects of climate change and how it triggers natural disasters around the globe. The full project is on our website, dedicated to this phenomenon.

Climate change has affected almost everything we can think of for many years now. The quality of air, the price of gasoline or the weather in your hometown — climate change is usually the culprit.

A Houston police officer carrying a woman and her son to rescue in Houston, Texas after Hurricane Harvey in 2017. This natural disaster destroyed homes and left people needing help. Photo from USA Today.

Natural disasters is a phenomenon that has occured since the start of time. However, climate change has deemed an increase in these disastrous storms. According to the Vision of Humanity Organization, natural disasters have increased 10 times on a global scale over the last century.

For a little perspective, in 1960 there were about 39 natural disasters that happend, and 396 in 2019. One of the biggest years of catastrophes, 2005, left an overall death toll of over 90,000 after 442 incidents leaving 160 million people in need of assistance.

Natural disasters can come in all frequencies, flooding being the most common. Locally, Michigan experiences flooding a lot.

More recent to remember – the 2020 flooding in Midland Michigan.

A pilot captured a video for MLive of the flooding that happened, due to treacherous rainfall causing the Edenville Dam to overfill.

MLive categorized that event as something that only happens every 500 years.

Flooding is not the only natural disaster that stems from climate change. Earthquakes, droughts, wildfires and increased temperatures are just a few to name.

Data categorizing global natural disasters between 1990-2019. Data from Vision of Humanity organization.

According to NASA, earthquakes can be triggered by different types of weather, like hot and dry climates — climates that experience droughts are also at a higher risk of earthquakes.

A mother and daughter sit where their home collapsed after an earthquake in Haiti hit in 2010. Photo from CNN.

CBS News says the United States entered one of the worst droughts in history in the year 2000, where the western states experience the driest of climates due to climate change. In some states, like California — this ongoing drought is still being lived through.

The different examples of natural disasters caused by climate change is one thing, but — what is the correlation between the two?

A lake in California empty due to the ongoing drought telling visitors not to fish. Photo from BusinessInsider.

According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the increase of global temperatures also increases the opportunity for more severe weather and disastrous occurrences.

As more water is evaporated into the atmosphere, it helps storms become more powerful. As ocean temperatures become warmer, the sea levels become higher. As the weather becomes hotter, tropical storms become more frequent.

Since climate change begins to have a timer of almost becoming irreversible, the push for help is becoming more and more prevalent.

Sea levels rise in Seattle, Washington in 2015 as waves crash into homes. Photo from the Seattle Times.

There are many local organizations in Michigan that push for better conditions. Some of those include the Michigan Environmental Council, Michigan Climate Action Network, and Greening Detroit.

After observing what goes on in the world around us, we know that Michigan is far from being the only place that is affected by natural disasters from climate change. Organizations like World Relief have helped provide nearly 1.4million people with disaster response aids using donations from people like us.

Global advocates like Time Magazine’s 2019 Person of the Year, Greta Thunberg, has put herself in front of the world to make it apparent that things need to change. Thunberg travels to different places by boat, across the Atlantic Ocean, while she strives for better — educating everyone along the way.

Greta Thunberg sitting next to her sign that translates to, “School Strike for Climate.” She began advocating for climate change in 2018; Photo from Time Magazine.

It’s an urgent matter that climate change is affecting the whole world, let alone in different ways. Natural disasters will keep getting more frequent, more severe if things don’t begin to change.

All we can do now is educate ourselves, teach others, and listen to organizations and advocates that make it their duty to inform the global community what is happening.

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