Environmental Disasters of 2014: 10 Photos of Loss and Destruction

NASA/GSFC/Jeff Schmaltz/MODIS Land Rapid Response/Getty Images

NASA/GSFC/Jeff Schmaltz/MODIS Land Rapid Response/Getty Images

Mother nature: she’s the great and terrible beast, the reason for thousand page environmental reports with complex graphs on emission rates, the havoc wreaking creator of flowers. As Princeton University molecular biologist Lee Silver points out, nature can sometimes be “a nasty bitch,” and this year reveals the humorless side of this statement. A series of natural disasters and environmental changes has left behind a great deal of destruction and economic hardship in 2014. Some suggest that as a result of climate change, or global warming, extreme weather events are increasing.

This is a complicated matter, it turns out. As with anything in science, things aren’t measured entirely in black and white, but in data and degrees of confidence. A report from The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change explained this by giving high, medium, and low levels of confidence in “long-term changes” of “global-scale trends.”

For example, there is medium confidence that certain areas have seen “more intense and longer droughts” and there is “statistically significant trends in the number of heavy precipitation events in some regions” so that “it is likely that more of these regions have experienced increases than decreases,” but it depends on the region. Ultimately, what’s clear is that, as with years before, natural disasters and weather events have left many with homes and people to mourn. Take a look at five major events see this year.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

1. Drought in California

This year saw California suffer from one of the worst droughts its seen in over 100 years — or so says White House Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack. Unfortunately, the effects are ongoing, with “water cops” taking to streets, according to NBC, to help educate and convince locals on how to cut down on how much water they’re using.

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Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Crops in particular have seen major fallout, and as a result, jobs that would usually employ many — or employ workers for longer — have been lost. This has left more than a few families in economically dire circumstance. On top of that, the drought has caused major fire concerns — as will be discussed next.

Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

2. Wildfires Across U.S.

More than California’s citizens have faced major fire danger this year, and wildfire outbreaks have spread up to affect much of the northwest. Washington and Oregon both have seen particularly bad wildfires this year so far.

Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

According to The New York Times, looking at the damage after a mere week of the fire season, which usually goes for about three months, the amount of ground covered has been worse than anything seen over the course of the last decade. Above lies a neighborhood in Washington destroyed by local fire outbreaks.

ChinaFotoPress/Getty Images

ChinaFotoPress/Getty Images

3. Typhoon in China and Vietnam

In what is reported to be the worst storm to hit the south in 40 years, China has seen a death count of 33, Vietnam lost 11 of its citizens, and at least 94 were reportedly killed in the Philippines by Typhoon Rammasun.

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Ted Aljibe/AFP/Getty Images

Evacuations have taken place all over, and efforts to consider the damage and manage the fallout are beginning. Above, a flooded street in China left buses partially underwater.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

4. Mudslide in Washington

Logging and changing moisture may have contributed to the landslide in Washington that killed 43 people in March, experts reported following investigation. Bodies were recovered through search efforts and identifications a still ongoing for at least one new body found, according to The New York Times. “One of the tragedies here is that it happened so quickly,” Robert B. Gilbert — professor at University of Texas on soil dynamics and geotechnical engineering — told The NYT. “If we had been monitoring this slope, were there indications that could have been used to prepare and warn that this was about to happen?” — and thereby help prevent such a high cost in life — “I don’t have the answer to that question,” he said, “but hopefully in the future we can do better.”

ChinaFotoPress/Getty Images

ChinaFotoPress/Getty Images

China also saw serious mudslides in the southwest, a result of the heavy rains, and so far 11 have been reported dead, with 14 missing. Efforts to recover bodies by officials are shown above.

Marianna Massey/Getty Images

Marianna Massey/Getty Images

5. Florida Sinkholes

Finally, sinkholes in Florida were a major concern for the area this year. A Florida Geological Survey compiled a decade ago shows just how at risk the state is. Some are relatively minor, but others cause major damage and infrastructure problems. Below, a home is shown destroyed last year, with 2014 seeing a continuation of these geological problems.

Luke Johnson-Pool/Getty Images

Luke Johnson-Pool/Getty Images

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