Climate change: Global weather predicted to become increasingly extreme despite warnings

A Royal Society report warns world will face more flooding and heatwaves as the temperatures on the planet continue to shift

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The Independent Online

Global weather will become increasingly extreme, with the planet facing rising surfacing temperatures, higher sea levels and flash flooding.

In the next 100 years the most vulnerable people, either elderly populations or those living in extreme poverty, will face increasing risk from shifting weather patterns, according to a report published by The Royal Society.

The 124-page inquiry, ‘Resilience to extreme weather’, comprehensively details what we can expect in the coming 100-years and how best to tackle the challenges faced.

From 1980 to 2004 the total cost of extreme weather came to – conservatively - $1.4 trillion, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Of this sum, only one quarter was insured damage.

And in the next 100 years top scientists explain this may only worsen. The impact of flooding is expected to quadruple - while boiling hot summers will increase 10-fold.  

The impact report was calculated by estimating the chances of people being affected by floods, droughts and heatwaves around the world.

Warning that although their results attempted to track extremes, the report said the natural variability of global weather – and lack of detailed data available – indicated there might be even more “unprecedented extremes, meaning that the past may not remain a good analogue for the future.”

However, these effects may not be sufficient. The results of the survey indicate the freak weather events, such as the British heatwave off 2003 which killed thousands of elderly and brought the country to a halt, may become more common.

University of Exeter Professor Peter Cox, one of the authors of the report, said: “We measure exposure to individuals. That goes up because of more extreme events and because the size of the vulnerable population increases.

“Climate change increases the risk to people by a factor of two or three and population change multiplies that by at least 1.5 and up to four times in the case of heatwaves.”

Researchers defined a heatwave as a run of five days during which night-time temperatures are at least 5°C above the norm.

The report recommends governments develop resilience strategies alongside one another, allowing the sharing of information and data. It also suggests more international and national funds need to be directed towards disaster relief in preparation.

The publication comes just a day after the sixth anniversary of the Climate Change Act, which received cross-party support and resulted in a pragmatic response to scientific and economic warnings.