As deadly floodwaters recede in Europe, climate crisis comes into view
Climate change is being blamed for deadly floods in Germany and other parts of western Europe that have left more than 100 people dead.
When professor Dieter Gerten learned that his home village was one of many hit with torrential rains and severe flooding this week, he was devastated, but not entirely surprised.
For Gerten, a working group leader at Germany’s Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, the deadly floods that swept through the streets of western Europe this week were the latest sign of the crises humanity will face in the years ahead.
“These sorts of events are totally what is expected due to climate projections for the past 30 years, which have said there will be a higher intensity and frequency of heat waves, of droughts and of strong rain events,” he told NBC News.
Gerten acknowledged it was "not easy or possible to link a single event to climate change.” However, he said, it was “possible to link a series of events, as well as the increasing frequency and the increasing intensity.”
Pointing to the recent record-breaking deadly heat wave that affected parts of the western United States and Canada earlier this month, he said the frequency of such weather events could increase if the global community does not do more to combat climate change.
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Gerten's village, Oberkail, is part of the western state of Rhineland-Palatinate that has borne the brunt of much of the flooding in Germany. The heavy rains caused riverbanks to burst, turning streets into wild waterways that overturned vehicles and reduced houses to rubble.
Storms in neighboring Belgium have also caused deadly flooding, while Luxembourg and the Netherlands were also hit with heavy downpours.
At least 120 people have been killed and hundreds remain unaccounted for in the flooding.