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New UN Report on Contribution of Weather to Disasters Over the Last Twenty Years

In a report released last week by the United Nations it was found that 90% of major disasters over the last twenty years were weather related. In the summary of  the report released on November 25, 2015 it was stated  those “major disasters have been caused by 6,457 recorded floods, storms, heatwaves, droughts and other weather-related events.”

The head of UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) noted that there are a number of drivers that increase the risks of these weather events, including greenhouse gas emissions.

The head of the Belgian based Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED), Professor Debarati Guha-Sapir stated : “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.”

The report also notes that among the countries of the world the five that have been impacted by the most events are the United States (472), China (441), India (288), Philippines (274), and Indonesia, (163).  Since 1995, “606,000 lives have been lost and 4.1 billion people have been injured, left homeless or in need of emergency assistance as a result of weather-related disasters.”

In addition, there has been an increase in weather related events: “In total, an average of 335 weather-related disasters were recorded per year between 2005 and 2014, an increase of 14% from 1995-2004, and almost twice the level recorded during 1985-1995.”

-Steven Silverberg

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