European floods ; Rescuers have been searching for survivors of the devastating European floods in western Europe, killing more than 120 people. Hundreds are still missing after torrential rains caused severe flooding in Germany and Belgium.
Heavy rains have also hit Switzerland, Luxembourg and the Netherlands – where Prime Minister Mark Rutte has declared a national catastrophe in one southern province.
- European leaders blame extreme weather for climate change.
- Experts say that global warming may be causing more heavy rainfall.
- The earth has warmed about 1.2C since the start of the industrial era.
In Germany, where the death toll is more than a hundred, President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said he was “shocked” by the crash ahead of his visit to the flooded region on Saturday.
“Everywhere you look today, the tide of protectionist sentiment is flowing,” Mr. Steinmeier told a news conference. “A lot of people have lost what they’ve built all their lives.”
Fear grows with loss
German rescue teams were disrupted by difficult conditions on Friday, leaving the relatives of the missing and eagerly awaiting news.
- Telephone networks were out of order, roads were badly damaged, and more than 100,000 homes had no electricity.
- The provinces of North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate and the Saarland were the worst affected.
In Ahrweiler district, Rhineland-Palatinate, officials said about 1,300 people were missing on Friday – but added that the number was “declining every hour”. A resident of the Ahrweiler area in Schuld told AFP that cars were swept away and houses demolished in squares which he likened to a “war zone”.
Roger Lewentz, interior minister for Rhineland-Palatinate, told local media that the death toll was likely to rise. “If you haven’t heard from people for so long … you should be afraid of the worst,” he said.
Predicted disaster history
Scientists have been predicting that summer rain and heat waves will intensify as a result of man-made climate change.
Hannah Cloke, Professor of Hydrology at the University of Reading, said: “Europe’s death and destruction as a result of European floods is a catastrophe that should be avoided.
- “The fact that some parts of the northern region are currently plagued by historic hurricanes and fires should keep in mind how dangerous our climate can be in a tropical country.”
- Scientists say governments should both cut off CO2 emissions that exacerbate the worst cases, AND prepare for the worst weather.
However, in the UK – which was hit by severe floods on Monday – a government climate advisory committee recently told ministers that the country was prepared for the worst weather in five years.
Only this week the UK government told people they don’t need to reduce air travel because technology will solve the problem of extinction – the idea that many professionals look at gambling.
In Belgium, the organization has been sent to four of the 10 provinces of the country to help organize and evacuate people. Prime Minister Alexander De Croo has declared July 20 as national mourning day.
- He said the floods – which have affected at least 20 people in Belgium – could be “the worst disaster in our country”.
Rescuers from France, Italy, and Austria have been dispatched to the town of Liege, where residents were evacuated after the catastrophic European floods. Meanwhile in the Netherlands, thousands of people fled their homes in the province of Limburg as floodwaters flooded cities and broke into a dyke.
But water was running low in the southern town of Maastricht and nearby towns, where residents were able to return to their homes on Friday.
Extreme flooding in Erftstadt-Blessem
In Switzerland, lakes and rivers were also swollen after heavy rains. A river flowing through the Swiss capital Bern burst its banks on Friday.
- Lake Lucerne is flooded, and the people of Basel have been told to stay away from the Rhine River.
How does climate change cause flooding?
European floods ; Global warming causes water evaporation, leading to an increase in the amount of rain and snow each year. At the same time, warmer climates mean that they can absorb more moisture – which also increases rainfall. Instead of watering the plants, the torrential rains are causing floods, as we see in Northern Europe now.