A United Nations agency stated that in the past 50 years, the number of weather disasters such as floods and heat waves caused by climate change has increased fivefold, causing more than 2 million deaths and total losses of US$3.64 trillion.

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said its “Atlas” released on Wednesday is the most comprehensive review of the mortality and economic losses caused by extreme weather, water and climate events.

It investigated about 11,000 disasters that occurred between 1970 and 2019, including Ethiopia’s 1983 drought (which was the deadliest single event that caused 300,000 deaths) and the most devastating 2005 Hurricane Katrina (loss 163.6 billion U.S. dollars) and other major disasters.

The report was released during a season full of disasters around the world, including deadly floods in Germany and heat waves in the Mediterranean, while the United States was hit by the powerful Hurricane Ida and wildfires intensified by drought.

“Because of our improved early warning services, we have been able to reduce casualties in such incidents, but the bad news is that economic losses are growing very rapidly, and this growth should continue,” WMO Secretary General Petteri Taalas said at a press conference .

He said: “Due to climate change, we will see more extreme climates, and this negative climate trend will continue in the coming decades.”

The report shows an accelerating trend. From the 1970s to the last ten years, the number of disasters has increased nearly five times, further indicating that extreme weather events have become more frequent due to global warming.

The report uses data from the Disaster Epidemiology Research Center. In the 1970s, the world averaged about 711 weather disasters per year, but from 2000 to 2009, there were 3,536 weather disasters per year or nearly 10 per day. Belgium. According to the report, the average number of disasters per year fell slightly in 2010 to 3,165.

The cost of these events also soared from US$175.4 billion in the 1970s to US$1.38 trillion in the 2010s. Since 1970, the five most costly weather disasters have been storms in the United States, of which Hurricane Katrina in 2005 was the most serious. The five deadliest weather disasters occurred in Africa and Asia. The most serious were the drought and famine in Ethiopia in the mid-1980s and Hurricane Bhola in Bangladesh in 1970.

However, although the hazards have become more expensive and frequent, the annual death toll has fallen from more than 50,000 in the 1970s to about 18,000 in the 2010s, indicating that better planning is paying off.

WMO hopes that this report, which provides detailed regional classification, will be used to help governments formulate policies to better protect people.

The report stated that more than 91% of the 2 million deaths occurred in developing countries, and pointed out that only half of the 193 WMO members have a multi-hazard early warning system.

It also stated that the “serious gap” in weather observations, especially in Africa, is undermining the accuracy of early warning systems.

Most deaths and damage in weather disasters come from storms, floods and droughts.

Samantha Montano, professor of emergency management at the Massachusetts Maritime College and author of the book “Disaster Studies,” said she is worried that the death toll may stop falling because of the increase in extreme weather caused by climate change, especially for The blow of poorer countries.

She said: “The difference in resources between countries in reducing disaster deaths is very worrying,” especially due to climate change.

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


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