Hillary Clinton Links Devastating Floods in Asia to Climate Change

August 24, 2010

In an interview with the DAWN Media Group, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is quoted as saying, “when you have the changes in climate that affect weather that we’re now seeing, I think the predictions of more natural disasters are unfortunately being played out.” Secretary Clinton was referring to the severe flooding in Pakistan, where about 16 million people have been affected by the unusually intense monsoon rains this season.

Image Credit: BBC

The BBC reports that an estimated four million people have now been displaced in the city of Sukkur alone. Meanwhile, the UN has described the humanitarian situation in the country “critical,” as tens of thousands of people continue to be displaced by flood waters moving south through the country. Clinton’s remarks harken to concerned comments by the UN’s World Meteorological Organization (WMO) this summer about extreme weather events. The WMO said, referring to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change:

Several regions of the world are currently coping with severe weather-related events:  flash floods and widespread flooding in large parts of Asia and parts of Central Europe while other regions are also affected by heatwave and drought in Russian Federation, mudslides in China and severe droughts in sub-Saharan Africa. While a longer time range is required to establish whether an individual event is attributable to climate change, the sequence of current events matches IPCC projections of more frequent and more intense extreme weather events due to climate change.

Wired notes that Indian subcontinent monsoons have been getting more extreme for a half-century. “The Indian Ocean’s surface waters have warmed by two degrees Fahrenheit since the late 1970s. That heats up the air, allowing it to hold more moisture, ultimately sending about eight percent more water vapor into monsoon systems over land. That extra eight percent stirs up the storms, causing them to pull in even more water.”