Recent Natural Disasters

2020 has been a disastrous year, in a quite literal sense. Besides the COVID-19 and social injustice issues, natural disasters all across the United States and all across the world have had significant impacts. Wildfires in California burned millions of acres and the smokes affected far more lands, multiple hurricanes devastated the Southeastern United States and the Caribbean Sea, rainfall in East Asia reached a historic level, and locust infestation in East Africa left nothing on the fields.

Wildfires in California
Since mid-August, many wildfires occurred in California in many regions such as Napa-Sonoma, Mendocino, and Santa Cruz. The main cause of this surge of wildfire was more than 10,000 lightning strikes from August 15 to August 19. The wildfires were also facilitated by a lack of rain and snow during the last winter and excessive heat during this summer. The wildfires were able to spread faster because of winds. Winds also intensified the smoke problem, which soon became present in all of California. The air quality in California poor enough to create a serious health concern by itself, as Northern California became the region with the worst air quality in the world. Currently, large fires are being contained, but the air quality problem is likely to last longer.

Hurricanes in the Atlantic
2020 hurricane season started in May, and hurricanes are still affecting the United States even to mid-September. There have been a total of 21 systems of tropical storms/hurricanes, among which the most damaging ones were hurricane Laura in late August and hurricane Sally at this moment. Heavy rainfall and strong winds have caused huge economic losses as well as considerable casualties, resulting in damage of more than 15 billion dollars and the death of more than 100 people. Many more people had to evacuate and lost their homes. At present, there are three active hurricanes and tropical storms. It will take a long time to recover from those damages, especially for less-developed countries in the Caribbean such as Haiti.

Flood in South and East Asia
The monsoon season, during which the rainfall gets heavy, comes to South and East Asia annually, sometimes with some damage. However, monsoon in 2020 has been extraordinarily devastating, as the amount of rainfall was so much higher than usual. The results were floods that swept many regions and displaced thousands of people. The areas affected include, but are not limited to, the southwestern coast and northeastern provinces of India, the Yangtze river basin of China, and western Japan. 

Locust infestation in East Africa
Locusts are a specific kind of grasshoppers. When environmental conditions, such as moisture and temperature, are met, locusts form a large group and swarm the land in a coordinated formation. In 2020, gigantic swarms of locusts have been moving through East Africa, whose size has grown out of control. The locust infestation caused serious devastation of crops and a shortage of food in East Asia. This is especially critical since countries in this region are dealing with other crises from COVID-19 to internal conflicts. These countries also do not have many means to deal with locusts. Currently, pesticides are one of the most effective methods, although the long-term environmental and health consequence of pesticides cannot be ignored.

So What?

2020 is a tough year for every single one of us. Every single one of the people on the Earth. Besides these natural disasters, economic crises, pandemic, and personal struggles are affecting our lives. It is so easy to be preoccupied with problems in front of us, ignoring what other people are going through. But we should not forget that other people are going through similar, or even worse, pains and struggles, especially during this hard time. The disasters have global impacts. In order to overcome them, we also need global efforts and cooperation.

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