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Our Fragile Planet: 2023’s Wake-Up Call, Part 2 of 4

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Italy, Romania, and Georgia also got hit by deadly floods this year. Landslides and mudflows triggered by heavy rains left at least 13 and 29 dead in Italy and Georgia respectively. The 2023 tornado season in the United States has, unfortunately, led to at least 75 deaths, a figure three times higher than the toll in 2022. Looking at the devastation, one Mississippi resident said, “There's nothing left.” Homes and businesses ripped to shreds. The roof of this restaurant torn off, tables and chairs, and much of the inside left intact. At least 12 tornadoes reported. Cars and even tractor trailers sent flying; a water tower crumbled to the ground. This year, the United States established a new record for the number of weather and climate disasters causing at least US$1 billion in damage in a single year, totaling over US$60 billion in economic losses and resulting in the tragic loss of 369 lives. In Asia, cyclone Storm Mocha inflicted extensive damage and prompted evacuations across several regions of Myanmar, Bangladesh, and India in May 2023. At least 800,000 people were left in urgent need of food assistance. Last year, a glacial lake outburst unleashed catastrophic flooding in northern Pakistan, submerging much of the country, killing over a thousand, and causing widespread damage.

Scientists warn that as the human-induced climate crisis accelerates, 15 million people around the world are at risk from flooding caused by glacial lakes. Doksuri affected 2,400,000 people and left at least 39 deaths in the Philippines before pouring record-breaking rains onto China. Tropical Cyclone Freddy impacted the lives of more than 2.2 million Africans. Nearly 700,000 people were displaced because floods and mudslides had destroyed their houses. Approximately 1.3 million people were left in the most urgent need of assistance. It’s now becoming clearer that this was a natural disaster but enabled by human actions. We’ll face more intense storms and torrential rainfall that cause havoc like this until we all take action to reduce climate change.
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