The Italian region of Emilia-Romagna has become an unfortunate showcase of the increasing threat of extreme weather events worldwide.
In May, six months’ worth of rain saturated the country’s agricultural center in 36 hours, according to the Guardian. The result is a horror story, including flooding and landslides that have killed at least 14 people and left 36,000 without a home.
What caused the disaster?
Hot weather is the culprit, as the massive amounts of rain followed a drought in the region.
“Rising temperatures intensify drought episodes, drying up the soil and changing its permeability in different ways,” Mauro Rossi, a researcher affiliated with the Italian National Research Council, said in a CNN report.
As a result, more than 20 rivers broke through their banks, flooding more than 5,000 farms, according to CNN. There were more than 300 landslides, according to the Guardian. A photograph of a former road, provided by the Guardian, shows a deep trench with people standing in it. It’s as if a giant plow had been pulled through the area — the result of a landslide.
Why is this a concern?
While scientists can’t link specific extreme weather disasters directly to the world’s overheating, CNN interviewed experts who said rising temperatures will increase the likelihood of more tragedies like this in the future.
The Earth’s temperature is up about 2 degrees Fahrenheit since 1880, according to data provided by Climate.gov. The warming per decade has picked up since 1981, and last year was the sixth warmest on record, according to climate data provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
“We are not facing simple episodes of bad weather, but real tragedies fueled by global warming that have clear perpetrators,” Federico Spadini, a spokesman for Greenpeace Italy’s climate campaign, told CNN. “Continuing to extract and burn gas and oil is a crime that will increasingly aggravate the climate emergency, with loss of life, environmental destruction, and serious economic and social impacts.”
The bizarre weather is unique in the region, according to people who have lived there for years.
“[T]here are some people here who are close to age 100 who say they have never seen anything of the kind,” resident Ivana Casadei told the Guardian.
What’s being done to help?
Clean energy and battery technology that harnesses renewable power from the sun, wind, and waves continue to improve. As the odds for extreme weather increase with warming, experts are becoming better at forecasting and mitigating the disasters.
It’s important to be aware of the changes around us and how they impact things like education.
Because, according to the experts, more bad weather is on the way.
“One woman, who didn’t want to leave her home, told me she only believed it was happening when the water was at her feet,” Enzo Lattuca, mayor of one of the Italian cities hit by the flood, told the Guardian.
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