At least 21 people have been reported dead and more still missing following heavy flash floods in Tennessee. The floods occurred last weekend as a result of a heavy downpour in Middle Tennessee. Some parts of the state witnessed up to 17 inches of rain in less than 24 hours. As a result, streets turned into rivers, leading to massive property destruction and loss of lives.
The floods witnessed over the weekend were the second major flooding event in the state this year alone. Early in the year, torrential floods in Nashville killed at least four people. As is the case with this latest flooding, property damage also occurred.
The extreme weather events witnessed in Tennessee are not isolated. For a long time, scientists have been raising alarms over the effects of climate change. In recent years, the cost of climate change has started manifesting in an unprecedented manner. Flash floods, famine, and forest fires have become the order of the day in many parts of the world.
As Earth warms up, more people are at risk of flash floods. Hot air holds more moisture and dries out the soil, making it less absorbent. When torrential rainfall happens in such an environment, the result is flash floods. The water overwhelms dams and pipes and can destroy other drainage infrastructure systems.
These flash floods aren’t limited to Tennessee. This summer, about 180 people were killed in flash floods in Germany and Belgium. In central China, 25 people were reported dead after being trapped by rising water. In western India, over 100 people died following a landslide after heavy rains. These events have cumulatively claimed over 300 lives in less than a year.
Global leaders have been reluctant to adopt critical measures to prevent global warming. The Paris Climate Accord of 2015 required the world to keep global warming from rising over 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Failure to achieve this would cause irreversible environmental damage. Scientists predict this would mean more diseases, severe weather events and loss of lives.
Currently, the situation does not seem to be getting better. Early this month, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released data showing that July 2021 was the hottest month in history.
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