Extreme weather - fuelled by the climate change - struck every corner of the globe in 2019
Bangladesh faced one of the 15 most destructive weather events across the globe in 2019, according to a report by Christian Aid - a humanitarian organization.
The report titled "Counting the cost: A year of climate breakdown", published on December 27, listed the onslaught of Fani - a tropical cyclone that lashed the southern coasts of Bangladesh on May 3 - as one of the deadliest disasters that befell humanity.
The report said that all these extreme weather events are linked to climate change. In some cases, scientists have identified the physical mechanism by which climate change influenced the particular event or calculated the extent of its relationship with human-caused warming.
Climate Scientist Michael Mann said, "Fani is just the latest reminder of the heightened threat that millions of people around the world face from the combination of rising seas and more intense hurricanes and typhoons.
"That threat will only rise if we continue to warm the planet by burning fossil fuels and emitting carbon into the atmosphere."
Extreme weather - fuelled by the climate change - struck every corner of the globe in 2019. From Southern Africa to North America and from Australia and Asia to Europe, floods, storms and fires brought chaos and destruction, the report added.
Each of the 15 most destructive weather events listed by the report caused damage of over $1 billion, and four of them cost at least $10 billion. It is said that the figures were likely to be underestimates as they often showed only insured losses and did not always take into account other financial costs, such as lost productivity and uninsured losses.
The deadly effects of Fani was shared by Bangladesh and India as the cyclonic storm first made its landfall in Odisha with a wind speed of 200 km/hour that led to storm surges of 1.5 meter.
When it entered Bangladesh, the ferocity of the storm became subdued. Nevertheless, it left 14 people dead and 45 injured due to lightning strikes, falling trees and house collapses. More than 1.6 million people from the southern districts were evacuated to cyclone centers.
State Minister for Disaster Management and Relief Enamur Rahman claimed that the damage caused by Cyclone Fani had been estimated to be around Tk536.61 crore. The cyclone flooded 63,000 hectares of land and destroyed crops on 1,800 hectares.
Officials earmarked Tk251 crore to repair 21.95 km stretches of embankments at 240 places and another Tk161.63 crore to repair damaged roads. Furthermore, Tk78.14 crore was needed to repair 2,063 damaged houses. The forestry sector suffered damages worth Tk5 crore, while the amount was Tk2.84 crore for fisheries.
According to the Christian Aid report, the deadly storm left 89 people dead and caused a total of $8.1 billion in damage to both India and Bangladesh.
Six months later in November, Bangladesh and India were hit by another tropical cyclone named Bulbul, which killed at least 39 people, 25 of them in Bangladesh.
The official estimates in Bangladesh stated that more than 250,000 hectares of croplands and around 150,150 households in 12 districts were damaged. According to the Bangladesh Forest Department, at least 4,589 trees fell in Sundarbans, the largest mangrove forest that protects the south-western districts like a green shield.
The report cited wild fires of California, Hurricane Dorian that hit North America, Typhoon Lekima, Faxai and Hagibis that lashed China and Japan, floods that inundated large areas of India, Iran, Australia, Argentina and Uruguay and Storm Eberhard that devastated Europe as deadly disasters of 2019.
It pointed out that the overwhelming majority of the deaths were caused by just two events - in India and southern Africa - a reflection of how the world's poorest people pay the heaviest price for the consequences of climate change.
In contrast, the financial cost was greatest in richer countries - Japan and the US suffered three of the four most costly events.
According to weather experts, Cyclone Fani fell in the category of Extremely Severe Cyclonic Storm.
Climate expert Ahsan Uddin Ahmed explained that according to the Saffir-Simpson scale, for the North Indian Ocean - the official name for the Bay of Bengal - any storm that has a wind speed of between 166-220 km/hr is considered a super cyclone.
Meanwhile, storms that has a wind speed above 221 km/hour is categorized as Super Cyclonic Storm.
Ahsan Uddin said that due to the obvious rise in the sea surface temperature, we will continue to experience more and more of these super cyclones that otherwise would have remained moderate.
Anwar Ali, a renowned cyclone expert, has predicted that sometime in the 2050s or 2060s, when the mean temperature becomes 4 degrees Celsius higher than that during the pre-industrial age, as predicted by scientists, there will be frequent super storms as intense as that of 1991, with tidal surges 10.7 metres high hitting coastal belts.
Our embankments, which are currently no higher than 7.5 metres, will easily give in.