More than 600,000 deaths are linked to weather related disasters, says report
The new United Nations report portrays a grim picture of human loss caused by weather-related disasters.
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According to the report, most of the major disasters in the past two decades were triggered by weather-related events such as flood, storms, heat waves or droughts and more than 600,000 people lost their lives as a result of them.
Besides casualties, 4.1 billion people were left injured, homeless or in need of medical assistance since 1995 and the major countries hit by the disasters are United States (472), China (441), India (288), Philippines (274), and Indonesia, (163).
The report also suggests that weather related disasters occurred more frequently in the past decade, almost twice as often as in the previous decade (1985-95) and Asia has taken most of the toll where weather disaster caused 332,000 deaths and affected 3.7 billion people. The cyclone Nargis which struck Myanmar in 2008 alone killed 138,000 people.
Moreover, those disasters cost up to $1.891 trillion which accounts 71% to all economic losses contributed by natural hazards.
“Weather and climate are major drivers of disaster risk and this report demonstrates that the world is paying a high price in lives cost.” Margareta Wahlstorm, head of UN office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) in a statement.
From 1995-2015, flood was the main weather-related event that led to most of the destruction. Floods affected 2.3 billion people and killing 157,000 all over the world, making 47 percent of all weather-related disasters.
Heat waves or extreme temperatures caused 164,000 deaths and mostly in high income countries.
Droughts affected the continent of Africa the most. 77 of 136 recorded drought events occurred in Africa alone from 1995 to 2015.
“All we can say is that certain disaster types are increasing. Floods are definitely increasing,” said Debarati Guha-Sapir, professor at UCL University in Louvain and the co-author of the study. “Whether it’s increasing due to global warming, I think it’s safe to say the jury’s out on that. But rather than focus on the ifs, whys and wherefore’s, I think we should focus on how to manage floods.”
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“Climate change, climate variability and weather events are a threat to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals’ overall target of eliminating poverty. We need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and tackle other risk drivers such as unplanned urban development, environmental degradation and gaps in early warnings. This all requires ensuring people are risk informed and strengthening institutions which manage disaster risk.”