30 October 2021

As world leaders meet ahead of Cop26, a pictorial reminder of how climate change is reshaping Earth

30 October 2021

Extreme weather in 2021 has seen fires rage, rivers flood, ice melt and temperatures soar.

Climate change has reshaped life on planet Earth through the extreme weather, which has also included droughts and wild storms.

A train passes a railroad crossing surrounded by floodwater in Germany (Michael Probst/AP) (AP)
A woman wrapped in a blanket crosses a snow-covered street in Dallas, Texas (LM Otero/AP) (AP)
An icebreaker making a path for a cargo ship with an iceberg in the background near a port on a Russian island (Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP) (AP)

World leaders are gathering in Scotland to try to accelerate the fight to curb climate change.

So far, it is not working, as the world keeps getting hotter and its weather more extreme, according to scientists and government officials. They do not have to point far back in time or far off for examples.

The Staten Island ferry departs from Manhattan through a haze of smoke with the Statue of Liberty barely visible (Julie Jacobson/AP) (AP)
An exposed river bed during a drought in Rosario, Argentina (Victor Caivano/AP) (AP)
A fire burns on a hillside in California (Noah Berger/AP) (AP)

There have been deadly floods in Belgium, Germany, China and Tennessee in the US.

Fires blazed in parts of the US west coast, Greece and even the Arctic.

A man looks for items at his granddaughter’s house in Tennessee that was devastated by floodwaters (John Amis/AP) (AP)
Bare trees stand in a destroyed forest in south-west Turkey (AP) (AP)
A house is surrounded by floodwaters on the outskirts of Sydney, Australia (Mark Baker/AP) (AP)

Heatwaves proved deadly and unprecedented, with temperatures in the north-west US reaching 47C (116F) in Portland, Oregon, a city known for its mild climate. Meanwhile, Hurricane Ida paralysed New York City with record-breaking, deadly rain.

“These events would have been impossible without human-caused climate change,” said UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres.

A man carries goods on his bike through a flooded street in China (Dake Kang/AP) (AP)
Pink water washes over a salt crust along the receding edge of the Great Salt Lake in the US (Rick Bowmer/AP) (AP)
Homes in Louisiana are flooded in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida (David J Phillip/AP) (AP)

In just the United States, there have been 18 weather or climate disasters this year, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. In the 1980s, the average year only saw three such disasters.

“We now have five times the number of recorded weather disasters than we had in 1970, and they are seven times more costly,” said Mr Guterres, speaking about global totals. “Even the most developed countries have become vulnerable.”

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