Hemp could be used to combat climate change says expert
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Climate change has already had many visible effects on our planet. Glaciers have shrunk and continue to shrink, trees are flowering earlier in the year and the world is experiencing more and more extreme weather events. Several European countries were affected by severe floods last summer — causing widespread damage and at least 242 deaths.
Floods in Germany in 2021 were the deadliest natural disaster in the country since the North Sea flood of 1962, as more than 15,000 police, soldiers and emergency service workers were deployed to help with the rescue operation.
New research predicts the financial toll of flooding may rise by more than a quarter in the United States by 2050.
The University of Bristol-led study, published this afternoon in Nature Climate Change, used advanced modelling techniques to make the concerning calculations.
They forecasted average annual flood losses would increase by 26.4 percent in less than 30 years, rising from $32billion (£23.8billion) to approximately $40.6billion (£30.2billion) in 2050.
The team used nationwide property asset data and detailed flood protections to develop a comprehensive assessment of the flood risk facing the US.
The estimates, which include commercial damage, were based on 2021 dollar values.
Factoring in inflation, the actual numbers could be significantly higher.
Dr Oliver Wing, the study’s lead author, said: “Climate change combined with shifting populations present a double whammy of flood risk danger and the financial implications are staggering.
“Typical risk models rely on historical data which doesn’t capture projected climate change or offer sufficient detail.
“Our sophisticated techniques using state-of-the science flood models give a much more accurate picture of future flooring and how populations will be affected.”
The study revealed that, while poorer communities with a proportionally larger white population currently face the most danger, this is set to change.
Future growth in flood risk is predicted to have a greater impact on African-American communities living on both the Gulf and Atlantic coasts.
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Dr Wing added: “The mapping clearly indicates black communities will be disproportionately affected in a warming world, in addition to the poorer white communities which predominantly bear the historical risk.”
Dr Wing said these new findings are of “significant concern”.
He said: “The research is a call to action for adaptation and mitigation work to be stepped up to reduce the devastating financial impact flooding wreaks on people’s lives.”
Last year was a particularly catastrophic year for weather and climate disasters in the US, with 200 separate events costing at least $1billion (£740million) in damage, according to a report published by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration earlier this month.
The 20 events is the second-highest total on record, beaten only by 2020 with a record of 22 events.
Flooding alone caused mass devastation across the US. Alabama, Arizona, Louisiana and Tennessee were among the areas hit hardest.
According to an AccuWeather report from May last year, the town of Alabaster saw 7.03 inches (178.6mm) of rainfall in one day — more than Californian cities such as Los Angeles had seen in the entire year beforehand.
A warming climate is intensifying the hydrological cycle, according to the Nature Climate Change report.
This makes extreme precipitation, and potentially inland flooding too, more severe.
Likewise, rising temperatures which result in ice mass loss are causing sea levels to rise. Coastal flooding may, therefore, be exacerbated by low pressure and high winds from storms, which are also expected to increase in both frequency and severity.
Professor Paul Bates, one of the UK’s leading flooding experts, said: “Current flood risk in western society is already unacceptably high, yet climate and population change threaten to inflate these losses significantly.
“The relatively short timescales over which this increase will take place mean we cannot rely on decarbonisation to reduce the risk so we have to adapt better, both to the situation now and for the future.”
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