In many parts of the world, the predicted extreme El Nino weather pattern is already living up to the hype. 2015 has been the hottest year on record worldwide, wildfires have ravaged Indonesia, monsoon floods have deluged India (the heaviest rains in 100 years have hit Chennai, India this week), and more extreme weather is yet to come. El Nino occurs when warm water that accumulates around Australia and Indonesia spills out east across the Pacific towards the Americas and this results in extreme weather, including sweltering heat and incredibly heavy rains.
Climate change is likely a major culprit. 1997-98 saw a massive El Nino and already this year's warm water records are surpassing that of 97-98, which indicates the world's climate issues are worsening. The 97-98 El Nino resulted in 20,000 deaths worldwide and caused close to $97 billion worth of damage as mudslides, tornadoes, floods, droughts, and wildfires wreaked havoc all over the planet. The bottom line? We need to brace ourselves.
California is already in the midst of a years-long severe drought and it's no question that we are in desperate need of the rain that El Nino is likely to bring. However, if we get an extreme deluge, the damage could outweigh the benefits, causing major floods, mudslides, and destruction of other sorts. And in an ironic twist of events, the extreme weather pattern could actually worsen droughts in certain areas of the world due to how rains are distributed worldwide.
Scientists are saying many effects of El Nino are yet to come. Here in California we're waiting to see if the predicted rains are actually on their way and if so, when. The chance of major rains in California is high, but all we can do is wait and see...and try to prepare the best we can. Of course in order to try to combat the extreme weather of a devastating El Nino year in the future, we all need to work together to combat climate change, which means making more environmentally conscious changes in our everyday lives like driving less, using fewer single-use plastic items, and conserving water. We can no longer turn our backs on the environmental crisis. It's truly effecting every single on of us and we must band together to save our planet.
As always, reduce, reuse, recycle, and conserve. Small, everyday changes can make a huge difference.