Climate change doubled the likelihood of the catastrophic rains and resulting flooding that killed at least 448 people in eastern South Africa in April, an analysis released this morning by World Weather Attribution finds. The deluge would have a 1-in-40 chance of happening in any given year, but climate change, mainly caused by the extraction and combustion of fossil fuels, made the torrential rainfall a 1-in-20 year event.
“We need to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to a new reality where floods and heat waves are more intense and damaging,” Izidine Pinto, a climate scientist at the University of Cape Town and one of the report’s authors, said in a statement. The report also noted that, beyond the deluge of rainfall, racist legacies of apartheid that included pushing nonwhites into more flood-prone areas and the dearth of safe affordable housing in and around Durban contributed to the tragically high death toll. (New York Times $, AP, CNN, Carbon Brief; Climate Signals background: Extreme precipitation increase)