Weather disasters are becoming more frequent and costly: UN | Weather News


The number of weather disasters – such as floods and heat waves – caused by climate change has quintupled over the past 50 years, killing more than two million people and costing $ 3.64 trillion in total losses, according to a United Nations agency.

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said its “Atlas”, released Wednesday, is the most comprehensive examination of mortality and economic loss due to extreme weather, hydrological and climatic conditions ever.

It documented some 11,000 disasters that occurred between 1970 and 2019, including major disasters such as the 1983 drought in Ethiopia, which was the deadliest event with 300,000 deaths, and Hurricane Katrina in 2005 which took was the costliest, with losses of $ 163.6 billion.

The report comes amid a global season filled with disasters, including deadly flooding in Germany and a heatwave in the Mediterranean, and with the United States simultaneously hit by powerful Hurricane Ida and an attack of fires. forest worsened by drought.

“Thanks to the improvement of our early warning service, we have been able to reduce the number of victims in these kinds of events, but the bad news is that the economic losses have increased very quickly and this growth is expected to continue. continue, “said the Secretary of WMO. -General Petteri Taalas said at a press conference.

“We are going to see more climatic extremes due to climate change and this negative climate trend will continue over the next decades,” he said.

The report showed an accelerating trend, with the number of disasters having almost quintupled between the 1970s and the most recent decade, adding to signs that extreme weather events are on the rise as a result of global warming.

The world experienced an average of 711 weather disasters per year during the 1970s, but from 2000 to 2009 it was up to 3,536 per year or nearly 10 per day, according to the report, which used data from the Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters in Belgium. The average number of annual disasters fell slightly in the 2010s to 3,165, according to the report.

Event costs also fell from $ 175.4 billion in the 1970s to $ 1.38 trillion in the 2010s. The five costliest weather disasters since 1970 were all storms in the United States, weathered by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The five deadliest weather disasters occurred in Africa and Asia – overcome by drought and famine in Ethiopia in the mid-1980s and Cyclone Bhola in Bangladesh in 1970.

But as the dangers became more costly and more frequent, the annual death toll rose from over 50,000 in the 1970s to around 18,000 in the 2010s, suggesting that better planning was paying off.

WMO hopes the report, which gives a detailed regional breakdown, will be used to help governments develop policies to better protect people.

More than 91 percent of the two million deaths have occurred in developing countries, according to the report, noting that only half of WMO’s 193 members have multi-hazard early warning systems.

He also said “serious gaps” in weather observations, especially in Africa, compromised the accuracy of early warning systems.

Most of the deaths and damage from weather disasters are due to storms, floods and drought.

Samantha Montano, professor of emergency management at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy and author of the book Disasterology, said she feared the death toll would continue to decline due to the increase in extreme weather conditions due to climate change, in especially in the poorest countries.

“The disparity in which countries have had the resources to devote to reducing disaster deaths is a major concern,” especially given climate change, she said.

Mami Mizutori, head of the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, urged the world’s major economies to help hard-hit developing countries invest in warning systems and risk modeling.


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