The number of climate change-driven natural disasters, such as floods, cyclones, and heatwaves, have increased by five times in five decades, between 1970 and 2019, according to a report by a United Nations agency.
The report, dubbed as "The Atlas of Mortality and Economic Losses from Weather, Climate and Water Extreme" is the most comprehensive review of the deaths and economic losses due to such disasters, according to the World Meteorological Department who published it. It comes less than a month after a UN body of climate change researchers gave its starkest warning yet, painting a near disastrous situation at a global level for humanity, and the rest of the planet.
Drivers Of Displacement - Climate Change Surpasses Conflict
The report also stated that while the number of disasters have risen, the human casualties due to the higher number of storms, draughts and floods have dropped sharply. Despite this, the report also states that over 2 million lives have been lost since 1970, with an damage of $3.64 trillion in losses.
The atlas was released by the WMO on September 1 at a news conference, in the presence of WMO secretary-general Petteri Taalas, and Mami Mizutori, the secretary-general for the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction.
It surveyed around 11,000 disasters occurring between 1970-2019, which includes major catastrophes like the 1983 drought in Ethiopia, and Hurricane Katrina in the United States in 2005. The trend was worrisome - disasters have been observed increasing in numbers and intensity at an accelerating rate.
Mizutori highlighted during the conference that climate change-driven displacement is slowly taking over conflict as the biggest driver of forced human displacement. He also added that more lives are saved due to technology and early warning systems, the increasing population exposes more and more people to the risk of such disasters.
Developing Nations Bear The Brunt Of Casualties
The atlas was published in the background of Hurricane Ida lashing in the east coast of United States, engulfing entire regions in flash floods and killing over 40 people as of now. Taalas warned during the conference that Ida's damages could surpass that of Hurricane Katrina, that killed more than 1800 people in 2005, to become the costliest ever natural disaster.
"The number of weather, climate and water extremes are increasing and will become more frequent and severe in many parts of the world as a result of climate change," said Taalas.
"That means more heatwaves, drought and forest fires such as those we have observed recently in Europe and North America. We have more water vapour in the atmosphere, which is exacerbating extreme rainfall and deadly flooding. The warming of the oceans has affected the frequency and area of existence of the most intense tropical storms," he added.
The atlas also observed that more than 90% of the deaths due to such natural disasters driven by climate change took place in developing countries. Droughts and extreme temperatures have been the biggest causes of deaths, responsible for 650,000 and 56,000 casualties in the last fifty years, respectively.
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