Hurricane Mitch, Hurricane Floyd, the super-cyclone in Orissa, massive floods in Bangladesh and Mexico - the list of weather extremes that have plagued the late 1990s goes on. While these disasters cannot be individually attributed to climate change, they are exactly what can be expected from a warming world and more unstable weather.
We know what action is needed to curb the greenhouse gas emissions that trigger climate change - strong energy efficiency and conservation measures, a switch to renewable energy, better public transport, reforestation projects. Yet progress is painfully slow throughout the industrialised world.
Will it take a major flood in London or New York to shake us from our inertia? If we fail to respond to nature's alarm bells, the weird weather of 1999 will be just a foretaste of things to come.
Department of Geography
University College London