Around the World

Extreme Global Weather: ‘the Unprecedented Is the New Normal’

A rising death toll, the catastrophic flooding and destruction of entire neighborhoods, and billions of dollars in property damage. The impact of Hurricane Sandy, which hit the East Coast earlier this week, will be felt for years, both in the United States and in the Caribbean region where it had earlier killed more than 70 people.

Sandy is being called the "Storm of the Century" but floods, droughts, heat waves and storms are only expected to get worse — with every part of the world facing deadlier and costlier weather disasters.

Much of the world has experienced devastating weather conditions this year. Across eastern and western Africa, a one-two punch of severe drought followed by torrential rains resulted in flash flooding and the deaths and displacement of hundreds of thousands. Drought was also the worst it's been in a quarter century in the United States, shriveling corn crops and boosting prices worldwide. And over the last week, typhoon Son-Tinh has wreaked havoc on Southeast Asia, killing dozens and damaging homes and crops.

So what's causing these extreme weather events and their widespread devastation? A special report issued earlier this year by the IPCC — the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change — points to a combination of human-caused global warming, shifts in population, and poverty. And though political wrangling over global warming continues in the United States, 7 in 10 Americans now believe in the science behind climate change and how it can alter global weather conditions.

This week, Christiane discusses these weather extremes with Michael Oppenheimer, a professor at Princeton University. He is also one of the authors of the IPCC report.

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