Revealed: how climate breakdown is supercharging toll of extreme weather

Guardian analysis shows human-caused global heating is driving more frequent and deadly disasters across the planet, in most comprehensive compilation to date

The devastating intensification of extreme weather is laid bare today in a Guardian analysis that shows how people across the world are losing their lives and livelihoods due to more deadly and more frequent heatwaves, floods, wildfires and droughts brought by the climate crisis.

The analysis of hundreds of scientific studies – the most comprehensive compilation to date – demonstrates beyond any doubt how humanity’s vast carbon emissions are forcing the climate to disastrous new extremes. At least a dozen of the most serious events, from killer heatwaves to broiling seas, would have been all but impossible without human-caused global heating, the analysis found.

The 12 events deemed virtually impossible without humanity’s destabilisation of the climate span the globe, including intense heatwaves in North America, Europe and Japan, soaring temperatures in Siberia and sweltering seas off Australia.

Seventy-one per cent of the 500 extreme weather events and trends in the database were found to have been made more likely or more severe by human-caused climate change, including 93% of heatwaves, 68% of droughts and 56% of floods or heavy rain. Only 9% of the events were less likely, mostly cold snaps and snowstorms.

One in three deaths caused by summer heat over the last three decades was the direct result of human-caused global heating, implying a toll of millions.

Huge financial costs are also now attributable to human influence on the climate, such as $67bn of damages when Hurricane Harvey smashed into Texas and Louisiana in 2017, which was 75% of the total damages from the storm.

Global heating has been hurting us for far longer than commonly assumed, with traces of its influence as far back as the heatwaves and droughts that triggered the infamous Dust Bowl in the US in the mid-1930s.

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