GENEVA – 90 percent of natural disasters occurred in the past two decades were weather-related, according to a report published Monday by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR).

Floods, storms, heat waves, extreme cold and droughts are some of the global catastrophes that have claimed over 600,000 lives and affected an average of 4 billion people globally.

Pakistan suffered the consequences of heavy raining last July, as 838 died from the floodings. Photo: AP.
Pakistan suffered the consequences of heavy raining last July, as 838 died from the floodings. Photo: AP.

For this report, the UNISDR along with the Belgian-based Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) compiled and analyzed data since the first Climate Change Conference in 1995. An estimated of 205 million people annually were left homeless, injured or in need of emergency assistance between 1995 and 2015 as a consequence of 6,457 weather-related disasters.

Asia was hit hardest with more frequent events and the largest number of people killed, since the continent has a vast and extensive variety of landmass and zones at high risk, such as flood plains and multiple river basins. Besides, there are high population densities in regions known for being prone to natural hazards. In total, 2,495 weather-related disasters occurred only in Asia in the past decade, leaving 3.7 billion people homeless and 332,000 deaths.

USA and China follow Asia with the greatest numbers of weather-related disasters due to their high population concentrations and large heterogeneous landmasses, with 472 and 441 respectively. The other countries hit by the highest number of disasters were India (288), Philippines (274), and Indonesia, (163).

Most likely to kill were storms, including hurricanes, taking over 12,000 lives each year. About 9 out of 10 of those deaths took occurred in impoverished countries. However, flooding figures as the most common weather-related disaster worldwide, as it accounted for 47 percent of the total. There seems to be no signal that floods will soon stop, as told to Reuters by co-author Debarati Guha-Sapir.

“Whether it’s increasing due to global warming, I think it’s safe to say the jury’s out on that. But rather than focus on the ifs, whys and wherefores, I think we should focus on how to manage floods”, commented Guha-Sapir, professor at the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters at UCL University in Louvain, Belgium.

Moreover, extreme poverty eradication is highly threatened by climate change, climate variability and weather events. The paper also states that among these risk factors are green gas emissions, precarious livelihoods, unplanned urban development and environmental degradation.

This report is released just a week before climate talks will begin in Paris. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will gather 138 world leaders on the opening day. The talks, which will be held until December 11, will take place at Le Bourget, north of Paris, and up to 45,000 people are expected to attend, as reported by Reuters. They will discuss common plans to refrain global warming by preventing temperatures rising more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

Source: Discovery News