Insights | Article | Understanding the surge in extreme weather events and the climate connection

Understanding the surge in extreme weather events and the climate connection

4 January 2024

This article examines the rise in extreme weather events and their connection with climate change, their devastating consequences, and provides practical investor resources designed to support climate action and guide us towards a more sustainable future.


Harshine Ramalu

In recent years, the world has witnessed a visible acceleration in extreme weather events due to climate change. This trend emphasises the need to combat global warming through collective action and to keep global temperatures aligned with the Paris Agreement, i.e., below 2 degrees Celsius, while pursuing a 1.5 degree global temperature rise.  


Pollution is at the root of this crisis, it causes climate change, and climate change causes extreme weather. Greenhouse gasses from burning coal, oil and natural gas pollute the air forming a heat-trapping blanket which warms the Earth. This blanket leads to shifts in weather patterns and the intensification of extreme weather events. The impacts of extreme weather events including floods result in unaffordable insurance premiums, damaged homes, and the devastating loss of loved ones. The best way to reduce the frequency and severity of these events is to curb pollution.

Severe weather events caused a staggering $4.3 trillion in losses for the global economy, with far-reaching economic consequences.

The human and economic consequences of extreme weather

Extreme weather events are not confined to environmental disasters, they exacerbate inequality and conflict, and devastate communities, businesses and lives. In the last 50 years, the climate change has claimed the lives of two million people and over 90 percent of these fatalities have occurred in developing countries. 

These events can result in significant economic impacts, which include extensive property damage to homes, infrastructure and businesses. This then leads to billions of dollars in losses and severe impacts on people’s financial stability and the security of entire sectors. For instance, the global fashion industry could face significant challenges due to extreme heat and flooding. Four leading garment-producing nations may potentially lose out on $65 billion in earnings by 2030.

Extreme weather challenges in Australia

The rise in global temperatures has unleashed a wave of extreme weather events. 2023’s northern hemisphere’s summer, has experienced wildfires, floods, and the emergence of four heat domes. The record temperatures observed in Australia’s southern states during September and October serve as a warning that the nation is on course for a summer marked by unprecedented heat and heightened vulnerability to extreme weather events, particularly an increased risk of bushfires. 


Although the connection between El Niño and climate change is complex, research illustrates that El Niño amplifies the impact of extreme weather patterns influenced by our changing climate. The warming of sea surface temperatures in the eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean disrupts the normal atmospheric circulation, leading to several key impacts on Australian weather, including a decrease in rainfall in the south-eastern regions of Australia. This leads to droughts, water scarcity and a decline in agricultural productivity. During El Niño, temperatures rise across the country leading to heatwaves and greater evaporation rates. As a result, there is an increased risk of bushfires which pose risks to both rural and urban areas. 


Bushfires have been an enduring natural phenomenon in Australia, shaping Australia’s distinct ecosystems. The Black Summer bushfires left a sad statistic in their wake, with an estimated loss of 429 people due to the smoke’s impact. Furthermore, thousands of individuals required hospitalisation for various smoke-related health issues. Prolonged exposure to bushfire smoke can have detrimental effects on respiratory health along with adverse cardiovascular effects. 

Australia has taken proactive measures to enhance its preparedness for bushfires, informed by the recommendations of a royal commission that outlined 80 actions.  A concerted campaign to raise public awareness and educate citizens about bushfire risks is also underway. 

Urgency for immediate action and climate change strategies

Climate change is overwhelming and so is understanding what actions to take and who should be responsible. However, the good news is that actionable tools are available for investors. For those seeking practical guidance, Altiorem offers a summary of Project Drawdown’s guide on climate solutions at work, with additional investor resources for climate action available here. 


The increasing frequency of extreme weather events, stemming from climate change, serves as a reminder of the need to address pollution and combat global warming. Pollution from fossil fuels is the driving force behind climate change, which, in turn, intensifies extreme weather patterns, bringing devastating consequences. The economic toll and the loss caused by these events highlights the importance of climate action. To secure a sustainable future, we need to act now. To access actionable investor resources for climate action, visit Altiorem.