Biba Adams thegrio.com
A new report from the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction has found that the number of deadly natural disasters has increased five-fold over the past 50 years.
Hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes, droughts and other major weather events have increased due to climate change. They comprise 50% of all disaster events and 45% of all reported deaths, as well as nearly 75% of economic losses around the world, disproportionately affecting poorer countries, according to the report.
There were more than 11,000 reported disasters reported globally, along with two million deaths in the past five decades, and 91% of human loss occurred in developing nations.
The WMO notes the loss of life has actually decreased due to technology and more early warning systems.
“Economic losses are mounting as exposure increases. But behind the stark statistics lies a message of hope,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas. “Improved multi-hazard early warning systems have led to a significant reduction in mortality. Quite simply, we are better than ever before at saving lives.”
The WMO notes that storms are the most prevalent cause of economic damage, the three costliest disasters of the past five decades all being hurricanes that occurred in 2017. In the United States, Hurricane Harvey caused $96.9 billion worth of damage, Maria in the Caribbean $69.4 billion, and Irma wreaked havoc to the tune of $58.2 billion in Cape Verde.
“The number of weather, climate and water extremes are increasing and will become more frequent and severe in many parts of the world as a result of climate change,” Taalas said. “That means more heatwaves, drought and forest fires, such as those we have observed recently in Europe and North America.”
The news comes as Hurricane Ida wreaked havoc on the Gulf Coast and, as a tropical storm, is causing unprecedented flooding in New York City.
The National Weather Service Office serving New York City noted that Wednesday marked the first time it had ever issued a flash flood emergency. More than 3.15 inches of rain fell in Central Park in one hour, making it the wettest hour in the history of record-keeping in NYC, smashing the previous record of 1.94 inches.
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