Disasters claimed 6 lakhs lives, cost 2 trillion in 2 decades
Published: November 28, 2015 2:03 pm
28 November 2015, Nirapad News: In the last 20 years since the first UN conference on climate change, weather-related disasters have claimed 606,000 human lives, damaged or destroyed 87 million homes, and injured, displaced or left helpless a total of 4.1 billion people.
The greatest loss of lives was in Asia, where 332,000 people died and 3.7 billion were affected. Cyclone Nargis, which hit Myanmar in 2008, claimed 138,000 lives, according to a message received here from Climate News Network on Friday.
A new study from the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) demonstrates that 90 percent of all disasters are now weather-related. And the average of 335 weather-related disasters per year in the last 10 years is twice that recorded between 1985 and 1995.
The report, The Human Cost of Weather-Related Disasters 1995-2015, is intended to focus attention during the UN climate change conference – which opens in Paris on Monday ? on the damage already inflicted by global warming as a consequence of rising levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, in turn as a consequence of the human combustion of fossil fuels and the destruction of the planet’s forests.
As world leaders head for the summit, referred to as COP21, the numbers alone tell the story. In the last 20 years, there have been 6,457 floods, storms, heat waves, droughts and other climatic events that meet the UN definition of a disaster ? that is, they killed people, displaced communities, or caused damage calculated in millions.
But there are figures nobody can assess. One of these is the true economic cost, especially in terms of economic development.
The UN’s Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters, based at the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium, puts the tally at US$1.891 trillion over the last 20 years.
However, that accounts for about only 71 percent of all losses attributable to natural hazards. The true figure for disasters – including earthquakes and tsunamis – could be between $250bn and $300bn a year, which would mean a total of up to $6 trillion just for the last decade.
Floods accounted for 47 percent of all weather-related disasters in the 20 years, affecting 2.3 billion people and killing 157,000.
Storms accounted for 242,000 deaths, or 40 percent of the total. Almost 90 percent of these deaths were in the lower-income nations.