In Germany and worldwide, climate change-fueled weather crisis wreaks havoc
A destroyed bridge over the river Ahr in Schuld, Germany, on Thursday. | Michael Probst/AP

Floods caused by global warming in Germany have left 108 people dead and at least 1,300 others missing. The tragedy is the latest in a pattern of natural disasters worldwide, highlighting the dire reality that devastating weather events will continue and worsen due to climate change.

Days before turbid waves ripped through the western part of the country, weather experts predicted the extreme flooding, after models displayed storms expected to produce massive water levels. By July 16 these predictions rang disastrously true, with news footage showing widespread destruction and desperate families trapped on rooftops in wait of rescue.

“This is a national tragedy,” said Environment Minister Svenja Schulze. “These are the harbingers of climate change, which now has arrived in Germany. The flood disaster showed the force with which it could affect us all.”

In one village, 12 people living in an assisted living home drowned due to the flooding. Neighbors remarked that they could hear their screams as they died. Operators at the facility said that of the 13 total residents who had been missing from the premises, only one was found alive. It was noted that a staff member tried to move several occupants of the home to the first floor as water surged into the building, but by the time the worker tried to get the rest to safety, they were washed away in the violent deluge.

Speaking at the Bellevue Palace in Berlin, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier expressed sorrow over the disaster, noting, “It is a tragedy that so many people have lost their lives. Only if we take up the fight against climate change decisively, will we be able to prevent extreme weather conditions such as those we are experiencing.”

The violent waters that consumed the lives of so many may continue to have a lasting ripple effect, even into the realm of politics, where the weather event could affect Germany’s fall elections. The Christian Democratic Union – the party of Chancellor Angela Merkel – could lose support, with the country possibly selecting the Greens over the CDU.

A cat surveys the damage on a flooded street in Bad Münstereifel, Germany, on Thursday. | Sascha Steinback/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

During her last U.S. visit, Merkel met with President Biden at the White House, with global warming one of the key items on the agenda. They planned to launch a joint climate partnership, which will target a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero in the U.S. and German economies by no later than 2050.

The undertaking is one of the many environmental plans by the embattled Biden Administration, which continues to contend with a climate-change-denying GOP – a party that obstinately resists any infrastructure bill that would create massive green jobs. They continue to oppose the Green New Deal that the administration fights for.

Meanwhile, climate disasters continue to rampage, even in the states, where in California the Tamarack Fire grew to over 23,000 acres on July 19. A hard-working group of firefighters struggled to prevent it from encroaching on the center of the evacuated community of Markleeville. It is one of 14 residential areas from which hundreds of residents were forced to flee their homes due to the blaze. It’s expected to be just one of the many more similar sized fires coming this season.

“What climate change is doing is making the fire season longer,” said Don Falk, a professor in the school of nature resources at University of Arizona. “Let’s not mess around and deny anymore, and look the problem square in the face. You can’t put a band-aid on this problem. There is no simple fix until you get serious about climate change.”


CONTRIBUTOR

Blake Skylar
Blake Skylar

Blake is a writer and production manager, responsible for the assembly of the PW home page. He has earned awards from the IWPA and ILCA, and his articles have appeared in publications such as Workday Minnesota, EcoWatch, and Earth First News. He has covered issues including the BP oil spill in New Orleans and the 2015 U.N. Climate Conference in Paris.

He lives in Pennsylvania with his cat. He enjoys wine, books, music, and nature. In his spare time, he operates a channel on YouTube, creates artwork, and is writing a novel.

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