Our Voice: Floods in Europe Demonstrate Human Suffering from Climate Change – by Jan Wondra
Like I said… not 48 hours after our most recent Ark Valley Voice story on climate change – Europe has seen another devastating example of what this means for humanity. A weather system blocked by the slowdown in the jet stream has positioned itself over central Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg and parts of the Netherlands. He sitting there for over 72 hours. It produced a year of rain in one storm. More rain is expected.
the human toll in death and loss, and the economic disaster it has caused to so many of our NATO allies is indescribable. It comes just a year after last summer’s gigantic dome of heat on the normally temperate continent, which claimed hundreds of lives, even as the COVID-19 pandemic raged.
More than 100 deaths are confirmed, at least 1,500 are missing and the death toll is rising. It’s the same kind of rampant system that stranded for days in 2013 in the northern front range foothills of the Rocky Mountains – quantities of torrential rains which caused similar suffering, economic and environmental losses. In the same year, a similar system stopped over Eastern Europe, inundating river communities in Austria, Hungary, the Czech Republic and East Germany.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel was on a visit to Washington DC, meeting with US President Joe Biden and, in shocked comments, vowed that everything would be done to locate those who are still missing, adding: “Heavy rains and flooding will not not reflect what happened. “
I know this part of Germany where the rain fell, the waters rose, people died, animals drowned and livelihoods were destroyed. I lived just south of the devastated region in the Rhineland-Palatinate of Germany while my husband served in the army.
I know the hundred-year-old brick and wood houses, the narrow streets. I know that most cities of all sizes, and hundreds of villages, are located on a waterway.
This the storm turned streams into rivers, and the rivers became vast, widening expanses of living water, mud and debris, which swallowed up plazas and stores, inns, schools and churches, entire automobiles and trains. The rising flood piled them up like matches, disintegrating the soil under houses and sweeping away traces of domestic life.
This video (above) documents flooding in several parts of west-central Germany as rainy days culminated in Europe’s most devastating flooding in centuries.
There is a maxim that you cannot stop the water from going where it wants.
If you think it’s normal in temperate Europe, you don’t know Europe. This catastrophe is the counterpoint to this reality: climate change is real and it is now, and its impacts are human and economic. We can stop it – but only if we choose to – and only if the world works together.
The Paris Agreement, the agreement signed by 192 countries to try to stem the rise in CO2 levels in the hope of moderating rapid climate change, takes on new meaning. As its opponents cling to their unwarranted skepticism, the signs are too numerous, too serious, too terrifying to ignore. Now, for our European neighbors, as massive flooding is added to recent heat waves in Europe, major droughts, lower water tables and winters that no longer offer lower temperatures to manage insects or to ward off tropical disease, now is the time to stop denying the obvious.
The drama of climate change may turn out to be surprising images, but the real drama is what lies ahead as we dawn into the year 2100 – if we do nothing. I won’t be there to see it, but my grandchildren will. I hope to God that they can say that they are proud of what we have done.
Featured Image: Damaged houses are seen on the Ahr River in Insul, western Germany on Thursday, July 15, 2021. Due to heavy rains, the Ahr River crossed the riverbanks dramatically the night before . More than 200 people have died and more than 1,000 people are still missing in Germany after heavy flooding turned streams and streets into raging torrents, sweeping cars away and causing buildings to collapse. (AP Photo / Michael Probst)