Global Warming. Climate Change. Unpredictable weather patterns. Call it what you will, but all these terms boil down to one thing: our environment is in danger of deteriorating.
The ozone layer is thinning and each of us adds our own carbon footprint to the situation. Whether we’re smoking a cigarette or our car is smoke belching or we’re not segregating our garbage or we keep using plastic or we go through unnecessary amounts of clean paper when we could be using recycled paper, the environment is what it is today because of our own individual, irresponsible actions.
On a larger scale, developed, industrialized countries are contributing the most to killing the planet—and sadly, it’s the smaller, poorer nations that are feeling the brunt of it. With their factories emitting toxic and excessive amounts of greenhouse gases, these first world giants cause the poorer nations to suffer because aside from being directly hit by hurricanes and droughts, these nations can barely afford to reconstruct in the aftermath of natural catastrophes.
Each of us is called to do our part in reducing erratic weather and climate change. Industrialized countries should reduce carbon emissions and look into alternative means of running their factories and manufacturing zones. Car companies ought to push for the mass production of solar or electric cars, instead of gas-run vehicles and sell them at affordable prices so that the public has easier financial access to them.
As individuals, the simplest actions can greatly help. We can conserve water by turning off the tap when we’re brushing our teeth. We can limit the usage of air conditioning and use electric fans instead to save on electricity. We can stop smoking. We can check that our cars don’t emit unnecessary smoke.
It all takes some time and effort, but if we all do our part, we can help make the world a better place for us and our children and more importantly, we can help reduce damage to the top countries most affected by erratic weather.
The nation with the biggest population in the world is one of the victims of climate change. The weather in China can range from freezing cold to burning hot within a few weeks and this results in rising sea levels, glacier retreat, the spread of malaria, and the most concerning aspect is air pollution. Just a few months ago, Beijing was shrouded in smog, rendering the air unbreathable to its citizens. They had to wear masks when they stepped out onto the streets! On the agricultural front, a lot of China’s crops have been damaged due to droughts and farmers are now being encouraged to buy climate change damage insurance.
It’s hard enough for the Philippines to be at the center of potential natural disasters like typhoons, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions; but to also be one of the hardest hit by climate change makes it all the more challenging for the Filipino people. Temperatures can soar up to 38 degrees Celsius over the summer, making the heat and thick humidity almost unbearable. Temperatures will continue to rise with each passing year. The air pollution is getting worse as well, as smog is perennially floating above the city’s capital. With all of these factors, many have started to develop respiratory ailments, like asthma and pneumonia.
8. Dominican Republic
Among those most affected by erratic weather patterns are island nations and the Caribbean region is not spared. The Dominican Republic is a tourist destination that is also very much affected by global warming. It’s wrought with inconsistent rainfall and hurricanes, making it susceptible to landslides and flooding. The sad thing is, many of its people are unaware of the dangers they face, especially those that have set up houses beside rivers. When flooding occurs, they end up losing their homes, claiming they only built their homes there in the first place because there was nowhere else.
The second most populous nation is also one of the most disaster prone. India is severely affected by extreme conditions: floods and droughts, hurricanes and heat waves. The results of these weather patterns are water shortages during droughts, dams threatening to flood during typhoons, and malaria and diarrhea due to dirty, stagnant water. Aside from that, the erratic weather also affects the crops and the infrastructure, resulting in food shortages. Lastly, it also affects tourism. Since temperatures become unbearably hot, tourists choose to flock to cooler countries to make for more breathable weather.
As if being hit by a devastating earthquake wasn’t bad enough, Haiti also lies in the direct path of a hurricane pathway, meaning whatever storms affect other countries, they hit Haiti much harder and stronger. These strong hurricanes cause massive floods, which lead to heavy landslides, destruction of crops, and the like. These disasters ultimately lead to diseases like cholera and in some cases, even death. What makes the erratic weather’s effects even more pronounced are the man-made issues, like illegal logging and over population.
The Central American nation of Nicaragua has registered at least 45 extreme weather events in the past 20 years. These weather events are due to erratic weather in yet another tropical island nation. The country has had two category-five storms in recent years. Hurricane Mitch hit in 1998, a catastrophe that resulted in 3,800 deaths, mostly fatally buried in mudslides on the side of one of the country’s volcanoes. Then there was Hurricane Felix in 2007, a storm that wreaked just as much damage.
Just like its Southeast Asian neighbor the Philippines, Vietnam is constantly besieged by erratic weather. It contains numerous coastal towns that are slowly shrinking in size because the waters in the Red River Delta and Mekong Delta are fast rising. These bodies of water contain a high salt content, which damages the crops that are planted in these coastal towns. This also means drinking water is becoming more contaminated and scarce, as pollution affects the water. Lastly, Vietnam experiences extremes: intense flooding during rainy season, sweltering heat, and droughts during the summer.
Yet another Central American nation is victim to climate change. Honduras is always in the path of hurricanes and droughts, both of which severely affect a number of things in the country. The harvests get either rained out or dried up depending on the season. Roads are destroyed because the rain pounds into them. The people get sick with either malaria, cholera, or during a drought, may even suffer from dehydration. Then of course, there’s the pollution, which can cause asthma. All of this can also lead to migration, as the locals seek refuge in countries with cleaner air and cooler climates.
Many environmentalists have warned about the danger Burma’s environment faces due to climate change, as Burma is the country with the second most erratic weather. Located in Southeast Asia and near the equator, bad, unhealthy weather in this part of the world doesn’t really come as a surprise, given what its neighboring countries are also experiencing. However, there have been several international reports that have issued warnings and immediate action to address the effects of climate change in Burma as quickly as possible.
South Asia holds the distinction of having the country with the most erratic weather and the most dangerous environment to live in. Located below the level of three major river systems, Bangladesh is near helpless during hurricane season when the rivers overflow. It doesn’t help that this overpopulated nation is also 50% poor with unsafe housing. A natural calamity hitting the country means a big number of people losing their homes and not being able to rely on the government, which lacks funds itself, to help them. Steps are being taken by international organizations to help the country, but only time will tell if that will be enough.