As the world transitions into a new and dangerous climate state, no nation is going to be immune to extreme weather event disasters. That's the conclusion of the latest IPCC report.
"One of the striking things, when you look at the report, is that there is disaster risk almost everywhere," said Christopher Field, a Stanford University professor who led the IPCC's working group on climate change impacts. "A focus on disaster risk and a focus on reducing disaster risk should be a priority in every country in every region."
That includes the United States, which suffered $55 billion in disaster-related damage last year, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. That includes 14 extreme weather events that each caused more than $1 billion of damage.
Those changes include "substantial warming" through the end of the century, with longer, stronger and more frequent heat waves over most of the Earth's land area, more frequent heavy rainfall events, and more intense and longer droughts in large swaths of Europe and Africa.
Some of the shifts are already evident, the report says, including an overall dip in the number of cold days and nights and a rising number of warm days and nights since the middle of the last century.
But the effects of those changes are influenced by different communities' ability to adapt, said IPCC Chairman Rajendra Pachauri.
Some areas may be rendered uninhabitable by changing patterns of extreme weather, says the new report, which identifies small island states and large coastal cities threatened by sea level rise as likely examples.
"As we look toward the future, probably the most difficult decisions are going to involve whether there should be a large-scale migration or mobilization of communities," Field said. "The decision about whether or not to move is achingly difficult, and I think it's one the world community is going to have face with increasing frequency in the future."
Over at Grist.com, Christopher Mims has this advice for his fellow Americans - move to Canada.
If you like cool weather and not having to club your neighbors as you battle for scarce resources, now’s the time to move to Canada, because the story of the 21st century is almost written, reports Reuters. Global warming is close to being irreversible, and in some cases that ship has already sailed.
Here’s what happens next: Natural climate feedbacks will take over and, on top of our prodigious human-caused carbon emissions, send us over an irreversible tipping point. By 2100, the planet will be hotter than it’s been since the time of the dinosaurs, and everyone who lives in red states will pretty much get the apocalypse they’ve been hoping for. The subtropics will expand northward, the bottom half of the U.S. will turn into an inhospitable desert, and everyone who lives there will be drinking recycled pee and struggling to salvage something from an economy wrecked by the destruction of agriculture, industry, and electrical power production.
Water shortages, rapidly rising seas, superstorms swamping hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of infrastructure: It’s all a-coming, and anyone who is aware of the political realities knows that the odds are slim that our government will move in time to do anything to avert the biggest and most avoidable disaster short of all-out nuclear war.