Recently published data collected by the World Meteorological Organisation shows there were close to five times as many weather- and climate-change-related disasters in the first decade of this century than in the 1970s.
As many as 1.94 million people lost their lives due to these catastrophic weather events between 1970 and 2012, which cost $2.4 trillion US in economic losses, according to the Atlas of Mortality and Economic Losses from Weather, Climate and Water Extremes (1970–2012).
The 44-page atlas, a joint publication of the Geneva-based UN agency WMO and the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) of the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium, examined major reported disasters linked to weather, climate and water extremes.
The atlas included 8,835 major disasters in the four decades between 1970 and 2010. The largest increase, however, was between 1971 and 1980 with 743 extreme events and 2001 and 2010 with 3,496 events.
Flooding and storms were the main cause of the disasters in the last decade but the data also shows heat waves are becoming more deadly and more common.
“Disasters caused by weather, climate, and water-related hazards are on the rise worldwide. Both industrialized and non-industrialized countries are bearing the burden of repeated floods, droughts, temperature extremes and storms,” WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud said in an accompanying media release.
“Improved early warning systems and disaster management are helping to prevent loss of life. But the socio-economic impact of disasters is escalating because of their increasing frequency and severity and the growing vulnerability of human societies.”