Adapting to extreme weather
Editorial  ·  2023-08-18  ·   Source: NO.34 AUGUST 24, 2023

Heavy rainfalls in north and northeast China in recent weeks have caused casualties and severe losses, and China is not alone. This summer, heatwaves swept East Asia, Western Europe and the west coast of North America, with temperatures exceeding 40 degrees Celsius. The World Meteorological Organization confirmed July 2023 as the world's hottest month on record.

Extreme weather events are occurring frequently around the world, inflicting great harm. According to a study by the World Health Organization, between 2030 and 2050, climate change is expected to cause 250,000 additional deaths per year from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhea and heat stress. In addition, ecosystems and agriculture in many regions will be unable to adapt quickly enough to the changes in global temperatures and rainfall patterns, which will in turn affect food crop yields and crop distributions. Agricultural production will be disrupted and more people around the world will have to face the challenge of food insecurity.

Despite its efforts to strengthen capacity building for disaster monitoring, early warning and emergency response, China still often struggles to cope with disastrous weather events, as evidenced by the havoc caused by recent floods in Beijing and other cities. Going forward, it therefore needs to continue to make itself more capable of responding to climate shocks. For instance, the idea of building "sponge cities," or equipping cities with designs and facilities intended to absorb rain and prevent flooding, is highly relevant.

In the face of extreme weather events, human communities must be prepared. Adaptation cannot be accomplished by one or a few countries, but requires the joint effort of all humanity.

Over the past few decades, the international community has set up a global climate governance system based on the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Kyoto Protocol, and the Paris Agreement, which aims to limit global warming to well below 2 and preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels. Against the backdrop of a volatile international landscape, however, the road to climate governance is bumpy and results remain unsatisfactory. If human society fails to unite as one in coping with and adapting to climate change, nature may visit more calamities upon us. 

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