Dangerous Weather Events
A warmer atmosphere can hold -- and dump -- more moisture, contributing to more intense extreme weather events, which in turn put people's lives at risk.
Warning signs today:
- Hurricane Katrina forced the evacuation of 1.7 million people in 2005, and lead to deaths and long-term health problems for 200,000 New Orleans residents.
- A combination of rising sea levels, reduced snowfall and increased rainstorms threatens to flood the homes of 300,000 California residents in the Sacramento-San Joaquin river delta area, potentially contaminating the drinking water of 24 million people.
- Alternating drought and floods have led to food and water shortages, malnutrition, mass migrations and international conflict. Some researchers suggest that 50 million people worldwide could become "environmental refugees" by 2010, displaced by rising sea levels, desertification, depleted aquifers and intermittent river flooding.