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Extreme weather in Asia, Americas on '04

The amount of natural disasters in 2004 is really staggering, both in its amount and severity. I found this article that summed up what it meant to the Asian continent.

Extreme weather and disaster wreak death and destruction in Asia

15 December 2004

DHAKA - Natural disasters and extreme weather—from quakes and floods to some of the worst typhoons in decades—claimed 4,000 lives and left a 22-billion-dollar trail of destruction across Asia in 2004.

Incessant monsoon rains that lashed Bangladesh, northeast India and parts of Nepal in July and August killed at least 1,240 people.

The heaviest downpours in years set off landslides, washed away homes and livelihoods, and spelt ruin for thousands of South Asia’s poorest people.

Large swathes of Bangladesh, which suffered the heaviest inundation since the worst-ever floods of 1998, were submerged for weeks. At least 700 people died and many were stranded, often with little or no fresh water or food.

The low-lying country, criss-crossed by a network of 230 rivers, is one of the world’s most densely populated nations. Pressure on land leads thousands to eke out a fragile existence on flood plains.

Development has increased the impact of flooding as water runs off urban settlements more quickly than it runs off agricultural land, increasing the likelihood of flash flooding.

Experts predict that annual flooding, which already affects at least 20 percent of the country, will worsen over coming decades unless development becomes more “disaster sensitive”.

“The consensus among aid agencies and other organisations is that these factors mean flooding will increase in severity,” said Charlie Higgins, the World Food Programme’s Bangladesh adviser.

“The number of people dying is now a fraction of what it was in comparable floods from previous years but development is going to increase vulnerability because as you develop there is more damage,” he said.

The World Bank estimated the cost to the impoverished nation at 2.2 billion dollars this year.

“Farmers have had huge losses and siltation of much land means that many areas will be barren for around 10 years,” said Dilruba Haider, assistant representative at the United Nations Development Fund.

Months after the floodwaters subsided, aid agencies have described the increased hardship endured by millions already living on less than a dollar a day as a “quiet disaster”.

Elsewhere, an unusual high pressure system in the Pacific was the main reason for a record 10 typhoons that hit Japan and the heaviest rain in 29 years, the country’s Meteorological Agency said.

About 216 people died and damage reached one trillion yen (9.7 billion dollars), government agencies said.

Tokyo is now racing to develop new measures to better warn senior citizens, who accounted for most of the victims, and to improve evacuation orders.

Many elderly were swept away in floods or buried alive in landslides. Of the 93 killed by Typhoon Tokage, which struck in October, 60 victims were aged over 60. It was Japan’s deadliest typhoon in a quarter-century.

Japan also suffered its most deadly earthquake in a decade in October.

Forty people died in an initial tremor of 6.8 on the Richter scale followed by hundreds of aftershocks.

China suffered too. Floods, typhoons and drought marked 2004. Large swathes of southern and eastern China are still in the grip of their worst drought in more than 50 years.

More than 1,000 people died in weather-related incidents but the toll was lower than the previous year’s figure of 1,900 because of better emergency planning, officials said.

Total economic losses for the year were put at 10 billion dollars.

In Taiwan, massive floods brought by storm Mindulle killed 29 and caused 4.07 billion Taiwan dollars (126 million US) in losses to agriculture and fisheries.

Sudden mudslides triggered by Typhoon Aere in August claimed 15 lives and 767 million dollars in losses, prompting government officials and experts to restrict farming and land use in some conservation and landslide prone areas.

“Mudslides are natural phenomena and people should not fight against mother nature. It is also against economic values if we forcefully build houses and plant crops in mudslide routes,” said Chen Cheng-yu of the Social and Water Conservation Bureau’s disaster response division.

Powerful storms in the Philippines in early December spawned flash floods and landslides that swept away whole villages, leaving 1,600 dead or missing.

The United Nations is urging countries to follow Japan’s lead in disaster management.

“Too much money is spent tackling the consequences of hazards instead of reducing people’s vulnerability in the first place,” said Salvano Briceno, director of the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction secretariat.

In January, officials from about 120 countries will gather in the Japanese city of Kobe—wrecked by an earthquake in 1995 -- to thrash out life-saving strategies for the future.

Meteorologists say the outlook for Asia in 2005 is uncertain because of the unreliability of long-term forecasts.

I also found the annual US study regarding climate change for 2004, and while American infrastructure can handle weather much better than the poorer Asian nations, there is some important factors to consider,

The last five 5-year periods (2000-2004, 1999-2003, 1998-2002, 1997-2001, 1996-2000), were the warmest 5-year periods (i.e. pentads) in the last 110 years of national records, illustrating the anomalous warmth of the last decade. The 6th warmest pentad was in the 1930s (1930-34), when the western U.S. was suffering from an extended drought coupled with anomalous warmth. The warmest year on record for the U.S. was 1998, where the record warmth was concentrated in the Northeast as compared with the Northwest in 1934.

2004 was much warmer than average for Washington and Oregon, and Idaho, while 33 other states were warmer than average during 2004.Only Maine averaged below the long-term mean.

So it seems we are warming up at an alarming rate. The biggest issue is the warmth felt in the northern areas, affecting the forests of Alaska. I found this from the National Interagency Fire Center,

According to the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC), wildland fires in 2004 had consumed over 8 million acres across the U.S. as of early December, which was well above the 10-year average of over 5.5 million acres. By far the majority of this year's fire activity in the U.S. occurred in Alaska, which had over 6.6 million acres consumed across the state this year, making the 2004 fire season the worst on record for Alaska for acreage burned. Extensive fire activity also occurred in the adjacent Yukon territory of Canada, where over 1.8 million hectares (over 4.5 million acres) had burned as of the end of September (as reported by the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Center-CIFFC

The next idea I am led to is, what are the scientists who study the weather telling the government about what is to happen in the future. I found a Senate committee interview with Tom Karl, Director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA’s) National Climatic Data Center (NCDC). The NCDC is the largest archive of weather and climate data in the world and it is one of three data centers operated by NOAA’s National Environmental Satellite Data and Information Services line office, within the Department of Commerce. In it he gives a partial answer to my question,

There is a growing set of observations that yields a collective picture of a warming world over the past century. The global-average surface temperature has increased over the 20th Century by 0.4 to 0.8° C (0.7 to 1.4°F). This occurred both over land and the oceans.

The average temperature increase in the Northern Hemisphere over the 20th Century is likely to have been the largest of any century during the past 1,000 years, based on "proxy" data (and their uncertainties) from tree rings, corals, ice cores, and historical records. The 1990s are likely to have been the warmest decade and 1998 the warmest year of the past 1000 years. Other observed changes are consistent with this warming. There has been a widespread retreat of mountain glaciers in non-polar regions. Snow cover, sea ice extent and sea ice thickness, and the duration of ice on lakes and rivers have all decreased. Ocean heat content has increased significantly since the late 1940s, the earliest time when we have adequate computer compatible records. The global-average sea level has risen between 10 to 20 centimeters (4 to 8 inches), which is consistent with a warmer ocean occupying more space because of the thermal expansion of sea water and loss of land ice.

Scenarios of future human activities indicate continued changes in atmospheric composition throughout the 21st century. The atmospheric abundances of greenhouse gases and aerosols over the next 100 years cannot be predicted with high confidence, since the future emissions of these species will depend on many diverse factors, e.g., world population, economies, technologies, and human choices, which are not uniquely specifiable. Rather, the IPCC assessment aimed at establishing a set of scenarios of greenhouse gas and aerosol abundances, with each based on a picture of what the world plausibly could be over the 21st Century.

Based on these scenarios and the estimated uncertainties in climate models, e.g., feedback effects, the resulting projection for the global average temperature increase by the year 2100 ranges from 1.3 to 5.6° C (2.3°to10.1°F). Approximately half of the uncertainty in this range is due to model uncertainties related to feedback effects and half is due to different scenarios of future emissions. Regardless of these uncertainties, such a projected rate of warming would be much larger than the observed 20th Century changes and would very likely be without precedent during at least the last 10,000 years.

The corresponding projected increase in global sea level by the end of this century ranges from 9 to 88 centimeters (4 to 35 inches). Uncertainties in the understanding of some climate processes make it more difficult to project meaningfully the corresponding changes in regional climate. Future climate change will, of course, depend on the technological developments that enable reductions of greenhouse gas emission

So, we have a good overview of weather on a global level by Mr. Karl, and, along with the previous articles, paints a picture that, at the very least, the temperature increases are expected to double, which can only mean more melting of the polar caps, more water in the oceans, and worsening events like typhoons, monsoons, floods, hurricanse, and such. The Powers-That-Be have known about this long enough, to me it underscores the need to assimilate as much power and control as possible. Once the weather starts to go haywire, the masses will be looking to their "leaders" for answers. As information is more tightly controlled, the only view most have in America is from the people who do not have their best interests at heart. That is not a good thought at all.

We need to wake up, to see everything for what it is, not how we want it to be. The fact is that there is a group of people who know what is coming, yet the message is not being delivered. Do these people have a soul? Or are they without the capacity to care for others?