More than 11,000 weather-related disasters have occurred in the world over the past 50 years, resulting in more than two million deaths

2022-03-20 2022-03-20T14:35:05Z
رنا السيلاوي
رنا السيلاوي
محرر أخبار - قسم التواصل الاجتماعي

Weather of Arabia - The past fifty years have witnessed the occurrence of more than 11,000 weather, climate and water-related disasters, resulting in just over two million deaths and economic losses amounting to $3.64 trillion, which is equivalent to a global daily average of 115 deaths and $202 million American economic losses.


According to the WMO Atlas of Deaths and Economic Losses from Weather, Climate and Water Extremes (1970-2019), the number of disasters recorded over the period covered by the Atlas increased fivefold, while economic losses increased sevenfold.


But thanks to improved early warning mechanisms and disaster risk reduction strategies, the number of deaths has fallen to nearly a third since 1970.


Losses due to droughts

Droughts have resulted in the highest number of deaths over the past 50 years, particularly in Africa. According to estimates, 450,000 drought-related deaths were recorded in Ethiopia and Sudan in 1983.


Storm damage

Storms caused the second largest number of casualties, particularly in Asia (where a tropical cyclone killed 300,000 people in Bangladesh in 1970, followed by another cyclone in 1991 that killed 140,000 people).


Unfortunately, poor population groups remain the most affected groups, as they account for about 90% of deaths in the world in developing countries.


Losses caused by tropical cyclones and floods

Tropical cyclones , and later floods , have caused the most economic damage over the past 50 years. Hurricane Katrina , which hit the United States in 2005, was the costliest disaster, with massive losses amounting to US$163.61 billion.


2017 saw the three most costly disasters (Hurricanes Harvey, Maria, and Irma).


Facing multiple dangers

Too often, we face multiple threats simultaneously, with ripple effects on infrastructure, agriculture, transport, energy and health systems.


This was demonstrated in January 2022 when the Pacific island nation of Tonga experienced the eruption of an underwater volcano that triggered a tsunami. In addition to the physical devastation inflicted on the country, the people of Tonga faced health threats from the spread of ash and volcanic gases, and lost their ability to adapt at the height of the annual tropical cyclone season. The pressure and tidal waves from this eruption had numerous consequences across the planet, including an oil spill off the coast of Peru.


Tropical Cyclone Patsiray , which struck Madagascar in February 2022, highlighted the successive dangers borne by violent winds and torrential rains, which led to injuries and destruction, and caused floods in coastal and inland areas, and landslides and mud.


Oftentimes, heat waves are associated with droughts, poor air quality and wildfires, which in turn can increase the chances of flash floods with any subsequent rain.


Effects of weather disasters, food crises and mass displacement

As a result, the severe impacts of weather and climate change have become a major contributor to food crises, displacement and migration, and social and economic insecurity.


The COVID-19 pandemic has made disaster management more difficult, placed a significant additional burden on health facilities, and amplified the number of heat-related deaths in many countries.


According to the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, the year 2020 saw an estimated 30 million people displaced by weather-related disasters. The pandemic, combined with extreme weather events including drought, has had a significant negative impact on levels of hunger and poverty in the world. In 2020, 2.3 billion people lacked access to adequate food for the year.


Increasing social and economic costs threaten the ability to achieve sustainable development. These costs are expected to continue to grow as people, assets and infrastructure continue to be exposed to risks in our urban and interconnected world.


By 2030, an estimated 50% of the world's population will live in coastal areas prone to floods, storms and tsunamis.


Therefore, the WMO community seeks to increase its capabilities to be able to identify and reduce the risks associated with these extreme events. A new initiative, Cataloging Hazardous Phenomena of Weather, Climate, Water and Space Weather, will strengthen the statistical underpinnings of development planning and prevention at the national level, and will provide a solid foundation for understanding vulnerability and its impacts.


Source: World Meteorological Organization

This article was written originally in Arabic and is translated using a 3rd party automated service. ArabiaWeather is not responsible for any grammatical errors whatsoever.
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