At the time of writing this column this week the number of Americans or those living in the US who have died of Superstorm Sandy has reached 74, according the BBC. The States that have been affected had power cuts and the transit systems damaged. This is how power¬ful nature can be.
Americans had the technology to alert people there would be disaster coming but had little help to stop it or let alone run away from it com¬pletely. President Barack Obama had to cancel his presidential cam¬paign tours for three days and went back to the White House to monitor the storm and how to deal with the emergency.
But was the cause of Superstorm Sandy a result of climate change? Some scientists agree it was while others are yet to say whether there is any connection. But for those who believe climate change has a part say the fact that there is an increase in sea levels it was enough reason to believe that climate change was the cause.
A climate scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US said of the storm, “My profession hasn’t done its homework. I think there’s going to be a ton of papers that come out of this, but it’s going to take a couple of years.”
Scientists have observed that “a warmer atmosphere can hold more wa¬ter vapor, which in principle supplies more energy for storms of all types. The statistics seem to show that certain types of weather extremes, notably heat waves and heavy downpours, are be¬coming more common.”
If this disaster of such magnitude were to happen in Africa, where tech¬nology to monitor such events or extreme weather conditions are almost zero, people would have been talking of millions dead. So climate change effects have no boundary and this now brings in some discussions as to whether the American contenders for the presidency this month have anything to talk about on climate change.
Since the campaign for the White House started very little on climate change has been discussed and the main issues that have dominated the campaign are jobs and the economy, we cannot talk about jobs without talking about the economy.
What Superstorm Sandy has done is destroy people’s properties and killing them in the process. But thanks to the technology the US has but one of the lessons that this nation has to learn is that climate change can affect anyone.
In Malawi we are also expecting some floods as the rainfall season is just starting and unlike the US we can¬not alert the public days before of any extreme weather so that they start evac¬uating.
History has shown in Malawi that most of the things we are told are tak¬en lightly or ignored. In some cases, however, there is no information that is given to the people for them to take action. We do not have the facilities as those available in other rich countries and with the population where most people do not know how to read and write it is a challenge.
Lessons need to be drawn from these storms. Asia and the US are ex¬periencing these storms now regular¬ly. As a nation we also need to learn something from it especially on issues to do with the environment. When di¬sasters strike, how prepared are we?