China has evacuated more than 2 million people due to intense flooding that has so far resulted in the deaths of at least 355 people and 112 are reported missing. This includes people killed by landslides induced by heavy rain fall. The province of Hunan, where villages were buried by a devastating landslide, has received the heaviest rainfall in 300 years. The recent floods directly impacted 37 million people living in China. The rainfall this summer echoes what took place last year in China, where flooding and landslides led to the deaths of 392 people. Recently, torrential downpours occurred shortly after parts of China were experiencing a serious drought. It appears likely that China could receive more precipitation than the yearly average in autumn and winter. According to China’s National Meteorological Centre, more heavy rains are expected in eastern and southern China this Sunday.
Despite yet another immense flood disaster in China this summer caused by heavy rains, there appears to be little media coverage of it overall, or at least not as much as the flooding that occurred in China last summer. Climate change has been linked to increased precipitation in the Northern Hemisphere (see Climate change linked to increased rain fall), there appears to be a connection, but to what degree is of course difficult to say. What can be said is that there is clearly a massive need for countries such as China to be better prepared for large flood events as villages with little to no protection against flooding are easily swept away. The emergency evacuation of more than 2 million people seems almost unfathomable, especially if many of these people may never return to nor see their homes again. Last summer Pakistan experienced the worst flooding in the country’s history. They are still recovering (see Pakistan flood disaster far from over).
The intensity of these flood events is likely to increase in the future, but science needs to encourage foresight within governments throughout the world to act accordingly. Indeed, this is why people have bothered to meet about mitigating climate change at all in the recent past. Reducing carbon emissions is extremely important, but preparation and adaptation now seem the way forward more than ever, especially since these kinds of disasters will continue no matter what. If individuals, organisations and institutions do something about the problems we as a global society are likely to experience in the years ahead, people could adapt — resilience can and does lead to survival. Psychologist Paul Slovic, who visited IHRR not long ago, quoted Mother Teresa, who said ‘if I look at the mass I will never act’; reporting the quantity of tragedies can lead to neglect and apathy, but if people looked inward and realised the relationship between themselves and the rest of the world that is ecologically, socially, politically and scientifically bound to them, maybe they will. But looking at projections of Co2 emissions for the future per country, there is much work to be done in how the world adapts, if emissions do not decrease as many would like.