If you thought climate change would be a slow phenomenon well, think again. Climate change arrived like a thief in the night in the late 50s and early 60s and by 2020 had reached "WHAM-BAM-THANK-YOU-MAM" proportions to put it lightly. However, joking aside, 2020 has been the year when even the most stoic optimist would have begun to see the glass half empty.
The whole year so far reads of devastation of record-breaking weather events across the entire globe, costing governments billions. Every continent on our planet has suffered record weather devastation in 2020. Unfortunately, most of the weather news this year didn't make it to your TV screens because of other huge events happening around the world, Covid-19 for instance with 13 million people infected and almost 1 million deaths. Civil unrest among many countries has also taken our eye off the weather and of course the very colourful and entertaining build-up to the American Election.
An area the size of Portugal was ablaze across Victoria and New South Wales during the fire's peak, credit NASA EarthView
On January the 1st the world was being told of a threat of a novel virus pandemic after people in China were becoming sick and dying in alarming numbers. Attention was somewhat diverted from the fact that Australia was suffering its worst wildfire season in living history. At this point, the entire east coast of the massive continent was ablaze, large swathes of the north, south and west were also burning like never before.
At the end of February, the fires where out, (they had begun in September the previous year) but the scale of the damage caused was incredible; As the worst bushfire season ever recorded came to an end in Australia the true extent of consumed forestry was found to be truly astonishing. Researchers at Western Sydney University’s Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment analysed historic data on the extent of Australia’s extraordinary forest fires and found that the area burned in Australia during the 2019-2020 forest fires was an astounding 21%. Previous "major fire" seasons have historically been around 2% of Australian forests consumed by fire. Worse still, 3 billion animals had been killed or injured during the fires and 60% of Australia's crop output had been burned.
We are now witnessing the same kind of wanton destruction along the entire west coast of the US. Almost 5 million acres destroyed nearly 50 deaths, many more missing and thousands of homes burnt to the ground. A mobile morgue has been set up in Oregon and a thick, blanket of smoke is trapped by mountain ranges on either side in Washington State. Weeks of dry, hot weather have fueled the historic wildfires along the West Coast that have reduced thousands of homes to embers. Firefighters have been battling blazes in the region, which have consumed more than 4.7 million acres, as dry grass and high winds have created tinderbox conditions.
At Least Four Billion-Dollar Disasters Struck the U.S. in August
On the other side of the US, Hurricane Sally is dumping more than enough rain to put out all the fires along the west coast with much more to come, oh the irony! The Atlantic Hurricane season is being touted as probably the most powerful ever with still 2 and 1/2 months to go. As we might now come to expect 2020 could smash previous records on both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts this year. A satellite image from NOAA earlier this week is showing a list of storms emerging in the Atlantic which would not look out of place in the blockbuster movie, The Day After Tomorrow.
Fires have been burning in Siberia since early spring and recording record temperatures. Siberia landscape scarred by climate change has caused a year of record-Bustin' temperatures scarring the Siberia landscape and causing scientists to warn that, across Siberia, vast swathes of ground - normally frozen all year round - are thawing - with potentially devastating consequences for the climate. As it thaws, the earth is believed to be releasing huge amounts of greenhouse gases, accentuating the problem of global warming.As for us Europeans, we could not be blamed if we thought we were living in paradise. For many of us, summer 2020 arrived in the middle of February and 8 months later, we are still walking around in flip-flops and shorts as temperatures were still above 30 deg C 95 deg F this week and with the summer weather expected to last well into October. However, the kind of temperatures we experienced in parts of July and August was anything but paradise. High temperatures lasting for days on end at or around 40 deg C 105 F was difficult to endure when you consider the humidity during these heatwaves in Holland was around 95% which made the temperatures feel even hotter than they really were.
It’s been a remarkably steamy, record-setting last three months for Mother Earth. Not only was August 2020 the second-warmest August on record, but the Northern Hemisphere had its warmest summer, and the globe as a whole had its third-hottest three-month season, too.