Media Tip Sheet: Tragic Floods in Libya Worsened by Human-Caused Climate Change

September 19, 2023

A group of scientists say the devastating floods in eastern Libya earlier this month was worsened by human-caused climate change. According to a new study released Tuesday by the World Weather Attribution group, the warming world made the tragic floods 50 times more likely. As of Monday evening, the United Nations drastically revised its death toll from the disastrous floods, saying the number of fatalities was 3,958 and that more than 9,000 people remain missing.

GW's Caitlin Grady

Caitlin Grady is an assistant professor of engineering management and systems engineering at the George Washington University. Grady studies the form and functions of interconnected infrastructure across water, food, and energy systems. Her research seeks to combine network models, socio-technical data, and ethical-epistemic analyses to create a more sustainable and secure environment. Grady’s areas of expertise also include adaptation to climate change, climate change impacts on hydropower and the U.S. electricity grid, and managing critical infrastructure under uncertainty.

“The extreme rainfall and dam collapses in Libya are reminders that natural disasters are increasingly becoming human disasters. It is a reminder that our ability to adapt to climate change and manage extreme weather will be determined not only by geography but also by political, social, and economic factors that influence infrastructure development and maintenance,” Grady says. “The decades of complex political history and conflict in Libya have created an environment where there were lapses in important risk mitigation planning for this type of event. This highlights how critical it remains to understand not only the science behind future climate trends but also the human factors within and between countries. Factors that, at the end of the day, may leave people in harm’s way when extreme events happen.”

If you would like to speak with Professor Grady, please contact GW Media Relations Specialist Cate Douglass at [email protected]