Socialist Worker

Devastating impact of climate chaos revealed in UN report

by Sarah Bates
Issue No. 2648

Cyclone Idai left large areas of Mozambique submerged by floodwater

Cyclone Idai left large areas of Mozambique submerged by floodwater (Pic: WFP/Irin)


The impact of climate chaos around the world was highlighted in a report by the UN World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) on Thursday.

“There is no longer any time for delay,” said UN secretary general Antonio Guterres.

The report showed that carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are increasing to record highs and sea levels are rising at a faster rate. And the planet has record hot oceans and the world’s glaciers are melting.

The new research comes as the floodwaters caused by the devastating Cyclone Idai in southern Africa are receding.

The cyclone has destroyed huge swathes of Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi, displacing hundreds of thousands of people and flooding 3,000 square kilometres of land. The Mozambican government estimated that 1,000 people had been killed—with the final death toll likely to be much higher once the flood water drains away.

Survivors have limited to no access to clean drinking water. They are forced to drink from contaminated wells or drink stagnant water by the side of the road.

The first cases of cholera have been discovered—an event the World Health Organisation has called a “second disaster”.

Petteri Taalas, WMO secretary general, warned that Idai “may turn out to be one of the deadliest weather-related disasters to hit the southern hemisphere”.

But the devastation of Idai doesn’t stand alone.

In 2018 around 35 million people worldwide were hit by flooding. Kerala in India suffered the heaviest rainfall and worst flooding in nearly a century.

Deaths 

In the same year thousands of deaths were associated with intense heatwaves and wildfires in Europe, Japan and the US. And over two million people were displaced by droughts, floods and storms by September of last year.

These devastating floods, storms, heatwaves, and wildfires have raged across the globe while politicians do nothing to tackle climate chaos.

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Just this week it was announced that carbon emissions—the central cause of global warming—are still rising.

There is a human cost to a changing world. Droughts threatens food production and will lead to rising levels of malnutrition and starvation.

And melting ice caps are causing sea levels to rise, meaning coastal communities—many of them in the poorest countries—will be flooded out of their towns and cities.

Climate change is no longer simply a possibility being debated in academic lectures or discussed in scientific journals. It is an inevitability—and it’s happening now.

But human beings can intervene in this process.

It’s too late to stop climate change, but it’s still possible to fight for a sustainable, socialist society that doesn’t destroy the Earth.


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