Climate change is 'proven'
Extreme weather events worldwide 'consistent' with global warming
Published 11/08/2010 | 05:00
THE simultaneous catastrophes of flooding in Pakistan, wildfires in Russia and landslides in China are evidence that global warming predictions are correct, according to climate-change experts.
They said the "extreme weather events" of recent months were all "unprecedented" and that such disasters, taken together, were proof of climate change.
Scientists also warned that widespread and devastating flooding would become more frequent and could be considered normal by the middle of the century.
Almost 14 million people have been affected by the torrential rains in Pakistan, and 1,600 have died, making it a greater humanitarian disaster than the South Asian tsunami and recent earthquakes in Kashmir and Haiti combined, the United Nations has said.
In Russia, firefighters and soldiers were battling to stop wildfires from engulfing key nuclear sites, while Prime Minister Vladimir Putin took to the air in a water-bombing plane to join the effort.
Morgues in Moscow are overflowing as officials estimate 5,000 have died in the worst heatwave in 130 years.
Flooding in China has killed more than 1,100 people this year and caused tens of billions of dollars in damage across 28 provinces and regions.
Flash floods in France and Eastern Europe have killed more than 30 people over the summer.
Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, vice-president of the body set up by the UN to monitor global warming, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), said the "dramatic" weather patterns were consistent with changes in the climate caused by mankind.
"Extreme events are one of the ways in which climatic changes become dramatically visible," he said.
Meteorologists said the disasters in Russia, Pakistan and China have all been driven by a "supercharged jet stream".
The jet stream, a vast ring of high-speed winds, has split in two, with one section heading north over Russia and the other going south over the Himalayas into Pakistan.
In Russia the stream is inhaling the heat and spreading it quickly, causing fires.
However, in Pakistan it is currently "supercharging" the monsoon.
Dr Peter Stott, head of climate monitoring at Britain's Met Office, said there was "clear evidence" of a rise in the frequency of extreme weather events due to climate change.
Prof Andrew Watson, of the University of East Anglia, said the extreme events are "fairly consistent with the IPCC reports and what 99 per cent of the scientists believe to be happening". (© Daily Telegraph)