“No one is safe”: how the heat wave hit the rich world

And while it will take careful scientific analysis to link climate change to last week’s cataclysmic flooding in Europe, a warmer atmosphere contains more moisture and is already causing more rainfall in many storms around the world. There is no doubt that extreme weather events will continue to be more frequent and intense due to global warming. An article published on Friday predicted a significant increase in slow but intense thunderstorms across Europe by the end of this century due to climate change.

“We have to adapt to the change that we have already built into the system and also avoid other changes by reducing our emissions, reducing our influence on the climate,” said Richard Betts, climatologist at the Met Office in Britain. and professor at the University of Exeter.

This message clearly did not penetrate policy makers, and perhaps also the public, especially in the developed world, who maintained a sense of invulnerability.

The result is a lack of preparedness, even in countries with resources. In the United States, flooding has killed more than 1,000 people since 2010 alone, according to federal data. In the Southwest, heat deaths have increased in recent years.

Sometimes it’s because governments have rushed to respond to disasters they’ve never experienced before, like the heat wave in western Canada last month, according to Jean Slick, program manager for the program. disaster and emergency management at Royal Roads University in British Columbia. “You can have a plan, but you don’t know if it will work,” Ms. Slick said.

Other times it is because there are no political incentives to spend money on adaptation.

“By the time they build new flood infrastructure in their community, they will likely be out of business,” said Samantha Montano, professor of emergency management at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy. “But they’re going to have to justify millions, billions of dollars spent.”

Christophe Flavelle contributed reports.

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