'Wilfully destructive': Natural disasters almost double under climate change, United Nations says

'Wilfully destructive': Natural disasters almost double under climate change, United Nations says”

The report is a reminder to UN Member States of their commitment to strengthen disaster risk governance and to have national and local strategies for disaster risk reduction in place by 2020.

A new report from the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) says that climate change has nearly doubled the number of major natural disasters that have occurred around the world between 2000-2019 when compared to the previous 20-year period. A report released by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNDRR) on Tuesday estimated global economic losses at 3 trillion over the past two decades.

Researchers estimate a temperature increase of 3°C of the global climate could increase the frequency of high impact natural hazard events across the world.

In these disasters, 1.23 million people have died, approximately 60,000 for each year, and more than four billion people have been affected.

"The odds are being stacked against us when we fail to act on science and early warnings to invest in prevention, climate change adaptation, and disaster risk reduction. And that is the conclusion of this report; COVID-19 is but the latest proof that politicians and business leaders have yet to tune in to the world around them".

As coronavirus-stricken President Trump held maskless rallies across the USA this week, the UN Office on Disaster Risk Reduction decried the "wave of death and unleashed across the globe" by not just the pandemic itself but also governments' lackluster response, "despite many urgings to do so from a plethora of experts", UN Office on Disaster Risk Reduction chief Mami Mizutori and Debarati Guha-Sapir of Belgium's Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters said in a joint forward to the report.

The report "The Human Cost of Disasters 2000-2019" also records major increases in other categories including drought, wildfires and extreme temperature events.

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"It really is all about governance if we want to deliver this planet from the scourge of poverty, further loss of species and biodiversity, the explosion of urban risk and the worst consequences of global warming", Mizutori said.

Together with a "staggering" rise in climate disasters in the first two decades of this century, the UN researchers determined that "almost all nations" have failed in combating the "wave of death and illness" caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic. Floods accounted for more than 40% of the disasters, affecting 1.65 billion people, while storms came in at 28 %, earthquakes at 8% and extreme temperatures at 6%.

"We have seen little progress on reducing climate disruption and environmental degradation", said UN Secretary-General António Guterres.

"That is the only conclusion one can come to, with action on climate change and other major threats waning", said Mami Mizutori, the United Nations secretary-general's special representative for disaster risk deduction.

This came at a cost of US$1.63 trillion globally.

Debarati Guha-Sapir of the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters at the University of Louvain, Belgium, which provided data for the report, said: "If this level of growth in extreme weather events continues over the next twenty years, the future of mankind looks very bleak indeed".

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