Climate crisis: Floods and fires rising amidst the pandemic

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Plumas National Forest, California. (AP Photo)

Hundreds have died and many are missing in Germany, Belgium, China and India floods, whereas, the United States is on fire. Heavy rainfall leading to floods and fast-spreading wildfires point towards a bigger climate crisis.

With floods and fires emerging in different parts, many around the globe have called out the deteriorating health of our climate.

Although, this crisis, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, is far from over.

Europe Floods

The European floods that hit Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands over the past few weeks, began with a severe storm and heavy rainfall that led to rivers and streams flooding the cities along the Ahr river in Germany.

The devastating floods have left more than 200 people dead and hundreds are missing, according to reports by Reuters.

As volunteers and firefighters are clearing up the debris in Germany’s worst affected areas — Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia — the country can expect heavy showers in the coming days.

Germany ap Water floods houses in Germany. (AP Photo)

The official weather news service of Germany, DWD, while talking to Der Spiegel, a German media house, said there are chances of heavy rains and thunderstorms, although the weather situation is different than during the floods.

As houses, train lines, communication and roads were swept away by the floodwaters, the German government had provided an initial aid of 200 million euros. According to Reuters, the government had also promised to fund the rebuilding of infrastructure.

Finance Minister Olaf Scholz promised that federal and state governments will together provide 400 million euros. The fund would be disbursed quickly so that construction activities could begin soon, he added.

Bund und Länder stellen gemeinsam 400 Millionen Euro #Soforthilfe für die #Hochwasser-Regionen zur Verfügung. Schnell und unbürokratisch. Wir tun zügig das, was erforderlich ist – darauf können sich alle verlassen. Damit sofort mit dem Aufbau begonnen werden kann. pic.twitter.com/mNnhDKgMiU

— Olaf Scholz (@OlafScholz) July 21, 2021

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Meanwhile, amidst the deluge, citizens were not happy with how the government has responded to the emergency situation.

“Two-thirds of Germans believe that federal and regional policymakers should have done more to protect communities from flooding, a survey by the INSA institute for German mass-circulation paper Bild showed,” said Reuters.

US Wildfires

Across the western US and Canada, a raging wildfire has been spreading. According to the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC), 1,448,053 acres have been burned in 79 large fires across the United States.

As mentioned on the NIFC website, there are 17 active fires, the highest in Montana, followed by Idaho (16), California (8) and Oregon (7). The website mentioned that three wildfires have been contained.

Forest officials told Reuters that the Oregon wildfire, one of the largest active fires, was caused by lightning.

Wildfire rages in Oregon, US. (AP Photo)

The smoke from the active wildfires has spread even to New York, causing the air quality index of the city to reach 103, on Friday, seen as unhealthy for sensitive groups.

According to a research by the Congressional Research Services, there were a total of 59,000 wildfires in the US and as of July 15, over 39,000 wildfires had impacted the country.

As per Reuters, “At least 67 homes have been destroyed and another 3,400 were listed as threatened, with an estimated 2,100 people under orders to evacuate or be ready to flee at a moment’s notice.”

China Floods

Floods hit China’s Henan Province after the region experienced heavy rainfall, also causing landslides in different parts of the region.

According to state-run media, a total of 1.24 million people were affected by the deluge and as many as 1,60,000 were evacuated. The floods have led to the death of at least 51 people and eight are missing.

Heavy rainfall also led to the flooding of dams. China had blasted one of its dams in Luoyang, one of the most populated cities in the country.

As threat increases, people are being evacuated. (AP Photo)

As reported by Reuters, the capital of Henan Province, Zhengzhou “has borne the brunt of extreme wet weather this week, receiving the equivalent of a year’s worth of rain in just a few days.”

President Xi Jinping deployed as many as 5,700 People’s Liberation Army soldiers in the city, nearly 650 km southwest of Beijing, for search and rescue operations.

India Floods

As heavy rainfall continues over Maharashtra, it has caused flooding, landslides and a heavy loss of life in the state.

At least 42 people have died in rain-related incidents in Maharashtra, out of which 36 of them lost their lives in a landslide in the coastal Raigad district, news agency PTI reported.

NDRF DG S N Prasad tweeted that as any as 72-76 people are feared trapped in a landslide that occurred at Vil Taliye.

Maharashtra has been seeing heavy rainfall for the whole month of July.

Buses submerged at the flooded Chiplun bus stand. (Express Photo)

In the wake of extremely heavy rainfall, Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackrey’s office tweeted on Thursday, “Units of the Indian Navy & the Indian Army have joined the rescue & relief efforts in Ratnagiri & Raigad districts.” Prime Minister Narendra Modi too assured the state of Centre’s support.

Meanwhile, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) has issued a notice of extremely heavy rainfall in Maharashtra over the next 24 hours.

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