Extreme Weather Experienced Worldwide

These past few months have been filled with extreme weather in many parts of the world, and climatologists are trying to figure out what to make of it.

From flooding in China to wildfires in Russia, strong winds in Australia to stiffling heat in the United States, with waterspouts over Miami Beach, Florida.  It's the season of unusual weather.

In Pakistan, floodwaters have swallowed whole villages and killed 1,500 people. "It rained the whole day and night. We did not sleep," said Mohammad Yaseen, a retired solder.

In China, torrential rains brought on the worst floods in a decade. Roads under two meters of water. Landslides surprising drivers. "I saw a rock falling down and then suddenly I heard a terrible noise, and another boulder hit my car and I was stunned," said Jiang Qidi, a driver.

In Russia, weeks of record-breaking heat and little rain are hampering efforts to extinguish wildfires.  Flames surrounded and nearly trapped this group of volunteers.

Analysts say the world should be aware of the consequences. "We pray to God day and night for rain to fall, to change this weather.  It is the only thing which can help us," said Igor Vlaznev, a Russian firefighter.

Russia is the world's third largest wheat exporter and officials there say the drought will cut the grain harvest by 25 percent. Grain exports could drop by a half this year.  World wheat prices are already up nearly 50 percent since early June.

"Grain prices are going up.  Food prices are going to be going up," said Lester Brown, who is with the Earth Policy Institute.

So what is going on?  Is it simply a coincidence that this extreme weather is occurring at the same time worldwide. Or is it a warning of catastrophic climate change?  The U.S. National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration says the earth has been warming over the past three decades and the most recent decade is the hottest ever.

"Even if the temperature trend were flat, we would see extreme weather. What we will see in a changing climate is that these things are more frequent. They may be of higher magnitude, meaning more severe when they happen and that's what we can truly see in a changing climate," said Deke Arndt, with NOAA.

Brown says it does not necessarily mean global warming, but "what we can say is that given the projections for future temperature rises, that we will be seeing more and more Russias around the world.  The next time it may be in China, may be in the U.S. midwest or Great Plains.  Could be in two or three of them at once. Then we are in real trouble."

Brown says to watch for three key indicators -- the number of hungry people in the world, the price of grain and the number of failing states.   

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?i
Carol Pearson
November 29, 2015 1:23 PM
The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle and Kimlong Meng report from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs