The United States, Canada and Germany are among the wealthier countries that have joined other more vulnerable and less wealthy nations in a growing list if extreme weather events. Scientists believe these events may be linked to climate change.
"It is not only a poor country problem, it's now very obviously a rich county problem," said Debby Guha-Sapir, founder of the international disaster database at the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters at Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium. "They (the wealthy) are getting whacked."
China was hit by deadly floods, but many people drowned in areas of Germany and Belgium that were not used to being inundated. The heat record for Canada and the Pacific Northwest in the U.S. was broken by climate scientist Zeke Hausfather, who called it "scary". It reached temperatures well above triple digits Fahrenheit, and highs of 40 Celsius. This unprecedented heat was accompanied with unusual wildfires. Southern Europe now experiences unprecedented heat and fire.
And peak Atlantic hurricane and U.S. wildfire seasons are only just starting.
When what would become Hurricane Elsa formed on July 1, it broke last year's record for the earliest fifth named Atlantic storm. Colorado State University has already increased its forecast for the number of named Atlantic storms -- and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will update its season outlook on Wednesday.
For fire season, the U.S. West is the driest it has been since 1580, based on soil moisture readings and tree ring records, setting the stage for worsening fires if something ignites them, said UCLA climate and fire scientist Park Williams.
Ernst Rauch, chief climate scientist at Munich Re, stated that the end-of year statistics for total damages costs from weather disasters are determined by what happens to U.S. hurricanes and fire seasons. He said that the largest economic losses have been seen in wealthier areas so far this year.
Hausfather, climate director at the Breakthrough Institute, stated that poor countries are more vulnerable to heat waves and are therefore less prepared. He said that although hundreds died from the heat wave in the Pacific Northwest, the death toll would be much higher in areas with poorer populations.
Hausfather stated that it is premature to predict whether the summer 2021 will break new records for climate catastrophes. However, "We are certainly beginning to see climate change push extrem events into new territory where they haven’t been seen before."
The number of weather, water and climate disasters so far this year is only slightly higher than the average of recent years, said disaster researcher Guha-Sapir. Guha-Sapir said that her group's database still has some events missing. It shows 208 disasters around the world through July, about 11% more than last decade's average but slightly less than last year.
Hausfather stated that last year's record-breaking heat came from Siberia. However, this year it hit Portland, Oregon and British Columbia. Western media tends to pay more attention to the west.
Kim Cobb, a Georgia Tech climate scientist, said that there is a "partly an increased number of extreme events but also that the steady drumbeat of the pile on year after year... takes its cumulative impact on all of us reading these headlines."
Peter Stott, University of Exeter climate scientist, said that "this pattern of recent Northern Hemisphere Summers has been really quite striking."
Stott stated that although overall temperatures are rising, "...what we're seeing in terms of heat waves and floods is more extreme then we predicted back then."
Scientists say climate scientists are certain that extreme events are caused by climate change.
Guha-Sapir stated that heat waves, apart from fires and floods, are another major threat to be prepared for.
"It's going be a big deal in the Western Countries because the most vulnerable to sudden peaks heat are the older people. She also said that the European population is very old. "Heat waves will be a major problem in the coming years."