Ground Report | New Delhi: 115 people die every day; One of the effects of climate change that is being noticed the most throughout the planet is the increase, in the number and intensity, of extreme meteorological events. The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has just published the Atlas of mortality and economic losses due to meteorological, climatic, and water extremes (1970-2019) that describes a stark reality: climate change and the most extreme meteorological conditions have multiplied by five the number of disasters in the last 50 years.
115 people die every day
In these five decades, these events have become a regular phenomenon, and are responsible for the daily death of at least 115 people and the economic loss of 202 million dollars every day.
All in all, there is a positive reading of the data. Thanks to improved early warning systems and disaster management, the number of deaths almost tripled between 1970 and 2019, from 50,000 in the 1970s to less than 20,000 in the 2010s, explains the report.
According to Atlas, from 1970 to 2019, weather, climate, and water hazards accounted for 50% of all disasters, 45% of all reported deaths, and 74% of all reported economic losses.
There were more than 11,000 reported disasters attributed to these hazards worldwide, with just over two million deaths and $ 3.64 trillion in losses. More than 91% of the deaths occurred in developing countries.
Of the top 10 disasters, droughts proved to be the deadliest hazard during the period, causing 650,000 deaths, followed by storms that caused 577,232 deaths; floods, which claimed 58,700 lives; and extreme temperature events, during which 55,736 died.
Economic losses have increased sevenfold from the 1970s to 2010s, from an average of $ 49 million to a whopping $ 383 million a day worldwide. Storms, the most frequent cause of damage, caused the largest economic losses in the world.
Three of the 10 most costly disasters, all hurricanes that occurred in 2017, accounted for 35% of total economic losses from disasters worldwide between 1970 and 2019. In the United States, Hurricane Harvey caused $ 96.9 billion in damage, Maria in the Caribbean $ 69.4 billion, and Irma $ 58.2 billion in Cape Verde.
Human influence in disasters
“The number of weather, climate, and water extremes is increasing and will be more frequent and severe in many parts of the world as a result of climate change,” said Taalas. “That means more heatwaves, droughts, and wildfires like we’ve seen recently in Europe and North America.”
More water vapor in the atmosphere has exacerbated extreme rains and floods, and warming oceans have affected the frequency and extent of the most intense tropical storms, explained the WMO chief.
The WMO cited peer-reviewed studies in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, which show that during the period 2015 to 2017, 62 out of 77 reported events revealed significant human influence at play. In addition, the probability of heat waves has increased significantly due to human activity, according to several studies conducted since 2015.
The Atlas clarifies that the attribution of drought events to anthropogenic or human factors is not as clear as in the case of heatwaves due to the natural variability caused by large oceanic and atmospheric oscillations, such as the El Niño weather pattern. However, the 2016-2017 drought in East Africa was strongly influenced by warm sea surface temperatures in the western Indian Ocean, contributed to by human influence.
Climate change has also increased the extreme sea-level events associated with some tropical cyclones, which have increased the intensity of other extreme events such as floods and associated impacts. This has increased the vulnerability of low-lying megacities, deltas, coasts, and islands in many parts of the world.
Need for adaptation
Only half of the 193 WMO member countries have multi-hazard early warning systems and there are serious gaps in meteorological and hydrological observing networks in Africa, some parts of Latin America, and in the Pacific island states and the Caribbean. (115 people die every day)
“More lives are being saved thanks to early warning systems, but it is also true that the number of people exposed to disaster risk is increasing due to population growth in hazard-prone areas and the increasing intensity and frequency of disasters. Meteorological phenomena. More international cooperation is needed to address the chronic problem of large numbers of people displaced each year by floods, storms, and droughts, ”said Mami Mizutori, UN special representative and head of the Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR).