Climate change is largely due to a nearly doubling in natural disasters in the past 20 years, the United Nations said on Monday.
The UN Bureau of Disaster Risk Reduction said 7,348 major disaster events occurred between 2000 and 2019, killing 1.23 people, affecting 4.2 billion people and costing the world economy around $ 2.97 trillion.
The number far exceeds the 4,212 major natural disasters recorded between 1980 and 1999, the UN office said in a new report entitled “The Human Cost of Disasters 2000-2019”.
The sharp increase was largely due to a surge in climate-related disasters, including extreme weather events like floods, droughts and storms, the report said.
Extreme heat proves particularly fatal.
“We are deliberately destructive,” UNDRR boss Mami Mizutori told reporters in a virtual briefing. “That is the only conclusion that can be reached by reviewing catastrophic events over the past 20 years.”
She accused governments of not doing enough to prevent climate threats and called for better preparedness for impending disasters.
“The odds are against us if we don’t respond to scientific evidence and early warnings to invest in prevention, climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction,” she said.
The report failed to address biological hazards and disease-related disasters like the coronavirus pandemic, which killed over a million people and infected over 37 million in the past nine months.
However, Mizutori suggested that coronavirus was “the latest evidence that politicians and business leaders have not yet adjusted to the world around them”.
Monday’s report showed there have been 6,681 climate-related events since the turn of the century, up from 3,656 in the last 20 years.
While the major floods had more than doubled to 3,254, there were 2,034 major storms compared to 1,457 in the previous period.
Mizutori said health officials and rescue workers are “fighting an uphill battle against an ever-increasing tide of extreme weather events”.
While better preparedness and early warning systems had helped reduce the number of deaths in many natural disaster areas, she warned that “more people are affected by the mounting climate emergency”.
Monday’s report relied on statistics from the emergency events database, which records all disasters that kill 10 or more people, affect 100 or more people, or lead to an emergency.
The data showed that Asia suffered the highest number of disasters in the last 20 years with 3,068 such events, followed by America with 1,756 and Africa with 1,192.
In terms of affected countries, China topped the list with 577 events, followed by the United States with 467.
While a warming climate appeared to determine the number and severity of such disasters, there has also been an increase in geophysical events such as earthquakes and tsunamis, which are unrelated to climate but are particularly deadly.
The deadliest single disaster in the past 20 years was the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004 with 226,400 deaths, followed by the Haiti earthquake in 2010 in which 222,000 people were killed.
(This story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and is automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)