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Wild Weather and Climate Change: The Role of Climate Tech in the Face of Escalating Climate Crises

In today's edition of This Week in Climate, we look at severe climate events that have happened this year, and the role that climate tech plays in finding solutions.
Abigail Bassett
May 2, 2024 4 min read
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In recent weeks, the world has witnessed severe climate events that underscore the urgent need for a robust response to climate change. From the deadly heatwave scorching the Sahel, deadly drought in Zimbabwe, and catastrophic storms in the U.S., to unprecedented rainfall flooding the streets of Dubai, these extreme weather events highlight the unpredictable nature of our changing climate. While the data seems dire, there are significant opportunities for climate technology to not only respond but also reshape our future.

This Year’s Wild Weather

We’re just past the first quarter of the year, and there have been numerous climate disasters around the world.

According to data compiled in January (the most recent data) by, just this year, Australia was hit with heavy rains leading to flooding in Victoria, northern and northeastern parts of the country. South America has seen exceedingly dry conditions, while Antarctica recorded its fifth lowest level of sea ice on record. Africa and Asia both faced major flooding, and high temperatures for this time of year, with Malaysia, and Borneo seeing extreme rainfall. Most of these global events are attributed to El Niño, a climate pattern that warms the surface of the oceans in the eastern equatorial region of the globe, impacting global weather, trade winds, and more.

In the United States, 2024 has already brought a series of significant climate and weather-related disasters. Among these, one notable billion-dollar disaster has been confirmed in the first two months of the year, which involved a severe tornado outbreak and an East Coast storm from January 8-10. This event caused extensive damage across more than a dozen states. Moreover, the U.S. has experienced a record-setting warm winter, with unusually high temperatures across much of the country, leading to reduced ice coverage in the Great Lakes and other anomalies. This has been part of a broader pattern of extreme weather that includes atmospheric rivers in the Western U.S., which brought significant flooding and the largest wildfire in Texas history during February​.

Wild Weather and Global Politics

Current significant war in Ukraine and the ongoing and escalating conflicts in the Middle East, aside, the World Economic Forum (WEF) has a pessimistic outlook on the state of the world for 2024, and it puts climate change at the top of its list of issues in both two and ten-year horizons. There are any number of hotspots that could erupt into conflict as a direct result of climate change.

One of those hotspots is the Sahel region in Africa. As the Council on Foreign Affairs (CFR) notes in a 2022 paper, “The link between climate change and conflict is increasingly at the forefront of security and development discussions. One place of greatest concern is the Sahel, a region defined by challenging environmental conditions.” The Sahel region separates the Sahara in the north from the tropics in the south and stretches from Senegal on the west coast of Africa to Eritrea on the east. Those countries collectively have a population of more than 100 million people, many of whom are facing dire living conditions and famine thanks to climate change.

Recently, a study by World Weather Attribution, a collection of international scientists who focus on extreme weather events, noted that the Sahel region is in the midst of a deadly heatwave–something that they describe as a “once-in-a-200-year” occurrence. In early April, temperatures reached more than 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit), leading to a number of deaths. The WWA argues that the recent heat wave wouldn’t have been possible without climate change.

The Sahel has also become a hotbed of drug trafficking, on top of its jihadist insurgencies, and inter-communal conflicts, according to the CFR. Instability in the region could very well spill over into a wider, additional conflict, especially because both the US and Europe have significant investments in the region, especially as climate change deepens. As David Wallace-Wells at the New York Times opined in February, the world may be entering a much bloodier era as a result.

What Role Does Climate Tech Play in Reducing or Preventing These Crises?

It’s not all dire news, though. Innovations in climate tech are key to adapting to and mitigating the impacts of extreme weather. For instance, enhanced weather prediction models can provide crucial early warnings, while new building materials and designs can minimize flood damage. Moreover, efficient water management technologies have become indispensable in both drought and flood scenarios.

For instance, advancements in meteorological technology will allow for more accurate and earlier weather predictions, which are crucial for preparing for and mitigating the effects of events like hurricanes and floods. This has led to significant reductions in mortality from such events as better forecasting enables timely evacuations and preparedness actions​, according to the UNFCCC.

Moreover, climate tech contributes to the development of resilient infrastructure that can withstand extreme weather, reducing potential damages and economic losses. The integration of smart technologies in urban planning can help cities cope with the challenges posed by increased precipitation and flooding, which are expected to become more frequent and severe due to climate change​. It can also help developing nations like those in the Sahel region, keep people safe and healthy during extreme weather events.

Additionally, climate technology facilitates the transition to renewable energy sources, which plays a direct role in reducing the greenhouse gas emissions responsible for global warming. This shift not only helps mitigate the severity of climate change but also reduces the energy sector's vulnerability to climate-related disruptions​.

The World Economic Forum recently put together a list of the top six technologies that could help the world adapt to climate change and they include AI for better modeling and adaptation, earth observation, advanced computing, IoT, AR and VR, and drone technology.

The role of climate tech is becoming increasingly central as the frequency and intensity of wild weather events continue to rise around the world. It’s clear that ongoing investment in these technologies, along with international cooperation and policy support, is essential for enhancing global resilience and adaptive capacity to climate change.

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The Author

Abigail Bassett