When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Already a subscriber? Log in .

You've reached your limit of one free article.

Get unlimited access to Worldcrunch

You can cancel anytime .


Exclusive International news coverage

Ad-free experience NEW

Weekly digital Magazine NEW

9 daily & weekly Newsletters

Access to Worldcrunch archives

Free trial

30-days free access, then $2.90
per month.

Annual Access BEST VALUE

$19.90 per year, save $14.90 compared to monthly billing.save $14.90.

Subscribe to Worldcrunch

Libya Flood, A "Natural" Disaster Made Of Climate Change And Colonialism

The devastating flood in Libya is the result of the climate crisis, worsened by the country's poor infrastructure, the legacy of European colonialism. These disasters will only become more frequent.

Photo showing the aftermath of the floods in Libya

Flooding in Derna, Libya

Mario Tozzi


If we still haven't come to terms with the climate crisis and the criminal irresponsibility of the Western world, we need look no further than the harrowing images coming from Libya, a nation devastated by the Mediterranean Storm Daniel.

The death toll is still unknown, with numbers rising everyday. It seems possible that the death toll will surpass 20,000, eclipsing Morocco's earthquake (which, somehow, has better captured the public's attention).

The damage is notable. In the eastern coastal city of Derna, witnesses describe water as much as three meters high. Yet these extreme weather conditions, stemming from an increasingly severe climate crisis, are only heightened by humanity's reckless disregard for the earth.

The catastrophe

We are witnessing a natural disaster born of human action and inaction, both in terms of infrastructural carelessness and, in the bigger picture, because of climate change – a force of destruction we relentlessly feed by burning fossil fuels like there's no tomorrow.

The victims of Libya are victims of their own oil production (of which it's doubtful they derived any benefit), and the unquenchable consumption of the rest of the world — us Westerners in particular.

In Derna, 420 mm of rainfall was recorded within a single day, which is far more than what the region normally sees in a whole year. Combine this with winds that reached almost 200 km/h (124 mp), and you can understand the devastation of a Mediterranean cyclone which has become subtropical, known as a Medicane.

It is all generated by exceptionally warm sea temperatures. It's a similar phenomena to what occurs in the Gulf of Mexico, except that the Mediterranean is much smaller – it's all a matter of scale.

The frequency of these meteorological events has increased from one every five years to one every year and a half. The Mediterranean is quickly becoming one of the most climatically vulnerable regions on the planet.

Photo of Italian colonists arriving in the ports of Libya in 1938

Italian colonists in Libya, 1938

Wikimedia Commons

A legacy of imperialism

These climatic conditions become catastrophic when they hit regions with poor infrastructure and worse city planning, which have sprawled recklessly with no concern for future risks. This is what happened in Derna after it was conquered in 1911 by the Italians, who immediately began expanding it at furious speed.

Those who will bear the brunt of the climate crisis will be the poor, the less equipped.

The entire territory along the Wadi Derna was occupied, right up to the coastal plain. Riverbeds were canalized, with embankments derived from buildings themselves and, for safety, two dams were constructed. This was enough to protect against flooding, which was infrequent.

Both of these dams burst when Storm Daniel hit, demonstrating that in the case of flash flooding, dams can worsen the situation instead of preventing it. The water then descended, devouring homes and people on its way, swelling uncontrollably as its path became obstructed by the city sprawl.

Storm Daniel narrowly missed southeastern Italy, but it's easy to imagine that tomorrow, it will be us facing the monstrous path of other Medicane storms. Our infrastructure is not so much better than Libya's, but those who will bear the brunt of the climate crisis will be the poor, the less equipped.

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

How Pro-Ukrainian Hackers Have Undermined Russia's War Every Step Of The Way

Authorities in Moscow continue to struggle to stem the tide of data breaches from hackers inside and outside Ukraine, who have been one of the unsung heroes in the resistance to the Russian invasion.

photo illustration of a light bulb with code in front of ukrainian and russian flags

Digital assets continue to be a point of vulnerability for Moscow

Andre M. Chang/ZUMA
Lizaveta Tsybulina

It was a concerted effort that began with Russia's Feb. 24, 2022 full-scale invasion, and has not relented since: pro-Ukrainian hackers have been targeting Russian government agencies and businesses, gathering secret information and passing it on to the Ukrainian security and intelligence forces.

Discrepancies exist in total reported breakthroughs and leaks obtained over the past 20 months. This year so far, Roskomnadzor, Russia’s digital watchdog, identified 150 major leaks, while Kaspersky Lab, a Russian cybersecurity firm, reported 168 leaks, totaling about 2 billion lines of data, including 48 million with top secret passwords.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

Sign up to our free daily newsletter.

Following the Russian invasion, a substantial number of hackers worldwide expressed solidarity with Ukraine, and took action. "My colleagues and I operate under the principle that 'if it can be hacked, then it needs to be hacked,'” said a representative of the Cyber.Anarchy.Squad group. “We believe in targeting anything accessible, especially if it's significant to defeating the enemy."

“BlackBird,” one of the founders of the DC8044 community, explained that the primary objective of hacking Russian entities is to acquire data useful to Ukrainian security forces.

"The personal data obtained by our groups is typically shared with security forces,” he said. “They aggregate and analyze this information to support their operations effectively.”

Hackers closely cooperate with Ukrainian intelligence services as well: they are engaged in reconnaissance, sabotage and information operations. Andrey Baranovich, co-founder of the Ukrainian CyberAlliance group said that “If we spend 24 hours hacking something, our victims should spend at least a week recovering, and in the optimal case, the victim should not recover at all.”

Keep reading...Show less

The latest