Thursday, July 31, 2014

Climate Change: Frequency, Costs and Mortality (World Meteorological Organisation)

Climate change is not some distant event in the future it is affecting us today. This is the finding in a new report from the World Meteorological Organisation, titled Atlas of Mortality and Economic Losses from Weather, Climate and Water Extremes (1970 - 2012). Because of the increasing risks climate change, the world is currently five times as prone to flooding and extreme weather events as it was in the 1970s.

Increasing Frequency

The first decade of the 21st century saw 3,496 natural disasters from floods, storms, droughts and heat waves. That was nearly five times as many disasters as the 743 catastrophes reported during the 1970s – and all of those weather events are influenced by climate change.

Rising Costs

Extreme weather is already costing us vast sums of costs money. The cost of disasters rose to $864bn (£505bn) in the last decade. Disasters were about 5.5 times more expensive by 2010 than they were in the 1970s, and most of that was because of the rising losses due to floods. About half of the $2390.7bn cost of disasters over the last 40 years was due to storms. In the US costs were led hurricane Katrina and super storm Sandy, each accounting for $196.9bn. The five costliest global disasters were US storms.

Growing Death Toll

The biggest death toll comes from storms which accounted for 1.45m of the 1.94m global disaster deaths. Drought is the next big killer. Heat waves are also a growing threat. In the 1970s heat waves didn't even register but by 2010, they were one of the leading causes of deaths from natural disasters. In Russia alone, more than 55,000 people died as a result of heat wave in 2010.

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