This story is a part of Grist’s 2021 Comedian Recap — an illustrated look again on a few of the 12 months’s largest local weather tales. To learn the opposite installments, click on right here and right here.
2021 was a banner 12 months for excessive climate. Right here’s a evaluate of a few of this 12 months’s largest occasions — and what function local weather needed to play.
In February, a winter storm in Texas left over 4 million with out energy for days — and killed 210 individuals, based on state companies, or as many as 702, as revealed by an impartial evaluation by Buzzfeed.
The hyperlink between local weather change and excessive chilly is disputed, however some researchers counsel that warming temperatures within the Arctic can result in a weakening of the polar vortex, inflicting pockets of chilly air to maneuver farther south.
In Could, Lake Charles, Louisiana, was hit by a “once-in-a-century” rain storm — dumping 15 inches of rain in simply 12 hours (extra rain than throughout both Hurricane Delta or Laura) on a metropolis that had already been hit by three hurricanes in 2020.
Excessive climate would possibly already be driving local weather migration within the U.S. — a type of managed retreat. The inhabitants of Lake Charles, for instance, dropped 6.7 % on account of residents shifting out of the town.
Local weather change is making storms like Ida stronger and wetter as they move over the nice and cozy waters of the Gulf of Mexico. In September, Hurricane Ida battered Louisiana as a Class 4 storm and its remnants introduced lethal flooding all the best way as much as New England.
Over the summer time, the West was gripped by an ongoing megadrought and mega heatwave situations, each fueled by local weather change, exposing 40 million individuals within the U.S. alone to temperatures over 100 levels within the usually temperate Pacific Northwest.
With dry situations comes hearth. Whereas fires in 2021 didn’t burn as many acres as final 12 months’s record-setting season, California’s Dixie Hearth clocked in because the second-largest in state historical past.
Fires in Canada and the West blanketed the nation in smoke, darkening skies within the Midwest and East Coast, bringing with it fantastic particulate matter, which poses dangers to respiratory well being.
More and more, it’s onerous to keep away from the consequences of maximum climate. And in a 12 months full of disasters, the idea of a ‘pure’ catastrophe could also be going out the window – based on Google Ngram, which tracks how usually phrases are utilized in books, the phrase’s utilization has decreased within the final decade.
The ‘pure’ in “pure catastrophe” can obscure each the function of local weather change and inequality in fueling the impacts of maximum climate; the extra that local weather change fuels excessive climate, the extra ‘unnatural’ disasters will turn into.