A warning from nature

Saturday, 2021-07-17 09:08:55
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A destroyed road next to the Ahr river is seen on a flood-affected area following heavy rainfalls in Schuld, Germany, on July 15, 2021. (Photo: Reuters)
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NDO – Germany and a number of European countries are suffering from historic floods, which have severely devastated many areas and claimed the lives of dozens of people. This is considered one of the worst natural disasters in Germany since the Second World War, and is a stark warning from nature about the unpredictable consequences of climate change.

Currently on a visit to the US, German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed her shock upon seeing the painful images of the historic floods in her homeland. The immense flood waters engulfed houses and roads. Lucky survivors sat on the rooftops waiting to be rescued. As of the night of July 15, the floods in western Germany had killed about 60 people, while causing hundreds of thousands of households to suffer power outages, bridges and roads to be destroyed, and many areas to become isolated. Together with Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Switzerland are also being seriously affected by floods.

Extreme and severe weather phenomena are occurring with increasing frequency, becoming a constant threat to humans. According to a report by the Christian Aid Foundation, 2020 was a year of global climate crisis. It listed the 15 most devastating natural disasters during the year, including wildfires, storms, floods and locust attacks. Among these, 10 disasters caused losses of at least US$1.5 billion. Climate change and extreme weather events are also making food insecurity more troubling. The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation reported that more than 50 million people have been simultaneously affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and climate-related disasters.

The aforementioned alarming numbers ring a bell to urge people to take urgent action in response to climate change. More than five years since the Paris Agreement on climate change, the world has made some progress, which, however, has yet to meet expectations. During a virtual climate summit hosted by US President Joe Biden in April 2021, many countries issued strong commitments along with many specific and drastic measures to join hands in protecting the “green planet”.

The Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme once emphasised that nature is sending an urgent message to humanity through the COVID-19 pandemic and the climate crisis. Therefore, fighting climate change has become more urgent than ever, requiring the joint efforts of all nations around the world.