The global deluge that swept through Australia, Brazil and Sri Lanka in the new year is a warning to the emerging trends in rain, drought and extremes weather that will assail countries in the tropics and subtropics in the years ahead as its temperature rise.
There are worries that the global atmosphere is containing more water vapour resulting from rising temperatures.
Climate scientists estimate that the global atmosphere now contains about 4% more water vapour than just 30 years ago. This has been causing warmer oceans and rapid evaporation. These are manifestations of greenhouse gases. The recent flooding in West End, Brisbane. Australia, Rio De Janerio and Sao Paulo, Sri Lanka recent flood disaster fits into a broad picture of weather trends that would confirm global warming.
Last week Pope Benedict XV1 has sought divine intervention and relief for victims of flood and mudslides in Australia, Brazil, Philippines and Sri Lanka, who entered into the New Year on the note of disasters. Pope Benedict who prayed for the flood victims on Sunday joined the United Nations and International sports stars to seek help across the world for the flood victims. In Queensland, about 16 people died while over 200,000 were left homeless.
International Tennis stars Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal held an exhibition event tagged “Rally for Relief” at Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, Australia.
Pope Benedict told pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday that he was praying for people in Australia, Brazil, the Philippines and Sri Lanka who are suffering because of the flood disasters that have been described as some of the worst in decades in Australia, Sri Lanka, Philippines and Brazil. The Pontif said the victims require huge global assistance to get over their worst experiences.
A massive clean-up is underway across the state of Queensland with 7,000 volunteers at work in the city and suburbs. State premier Anna Blight called “Operation Compassion”. The US is giving £200,000 but vast sums will be needed to help victims hit by the same La Nina weather patterns that caused the Australian floods. Australia has seen some of its worst flooding in 100 years; mudslides in Brazil have killed more than 600 people, and floods in Sri Lanka have left hundreds of thousands homeless there.
The Philippines has been battered by bad weather for weeks. In Sri Lanka and Brazil where floods and mudslides have left thousands in desperate need of international aid and the United Nations appealed for emergency aid for Sri Lanka, where 37 died, 390,000 have been left homeless and vast rice fields ready to be harvested are under water. Hundreds of families have taken refuge in makeshift camps in the town of Batticaloa in the east of the country. Humanitarian co-ordinators are appealing mosquito nets, clean water and food.”
The Brazilian flood
In Brazil, where 500 died and up to 700,000 were displaced when tons of mud careered down mountainsides in Teresopolis. The Brazilian flood is considered to be the worst natural disaster in the New Year. The floods caused mudslides killing at least 274 people in Nova Friburgo, 263 in Teresopolis, 55 in Petropolis, and 18 in Sumidouro. Many regions have no drinking water, no electricity, while telecommunications has been badly disrupted. But the Brazilian military is making efforts at installing makeshift communication centers to help rescue workers with some kind of communication network.
There have been reports of looting with little or no public services and blocked roads.
Rescue efforts were disrupted by poor conditions and lack of electricity. More than 14,000 are reported to have fled their homes with more rains forecast for at least another week Floods and mudslides resulted from months of heavy rains in northern Brazil which have driven more than 186,000 from their homes, and cut off shipments from a huge Amazon iron mine, according to officials. At least seven states, most in the Amazon region, have been affected by the rains, which have battered the region for several months.
Worst-hit is the state of Maranhao along the Atlantic coast and south of the mouth of the Amazon river. The rains also prompted the temporary closure of a railway that takes iron ore from the sprawling Carajas mine in the neighbouring jungle state of Para.
Iron ore, the main ingredient in steel, is shipped overseas from Sao Luis, the state capital of Maranhao. The railway also transports 1,300 people per day, and G1 reported that service should be restored within two days.
Vale is the world’s second largest mining company and the planet’s biggest iron ore producer. Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva flew over the hardest-hit areas, delivered food baskets to shelters, met with local officials and promised aid to repair infrastructure. He also voiced concerns that global climate change could be responsible for the unusually heavy rains and destruction.
“We need to look more seriously into the climate situation these days,” said Silva. “Something is changing and we still have time to fix it.”Floods and mudslides late last year in the southern state of Santa Catarina killed more than 100 people, displaced some 80,000 and set off a round of brutal looting in a devastated port city by people desperate for drinking water and food.
In Sri Lanka, the flash
floods in the Eastern province of the country left hundreds of thousands of people displaced and thousands of acres of cultivated lands destroyed. The lands are filled with water up to tree height. The rampaging the raging waters killed animals in the wild soaked thousands of acres of forest land.
Over one million people have been affected while 363,078 people belonging to 93,666 families are sheltered in welfare camps located in the Eastern, Uva, Central, North Central and Sabaragamuwa provinces, according to the Disaster Management Centre. At least 27 people have died and another 12 persons were injured following torrential rains in the 14 districts that are submerged, the report said.