A United Nations (UN) agency World Meteorological Organization (WMO) on Wednesday stated that the number of disasters triggered by climate change has increased fivefold in the last 50 years claiming more than 2 million lives and costing total losses of $3.64 trillion.
A Reuters report stated that the WMO asserted that “Atlas” is the most comprehensive review of mortality and economic losses from weather, water, and climate extremes ever produced.
“It surveys some 11,000 disasters occurring between 1979-2019, including major catastrophes such as Ethiopia’s 1983 drought, which was the single most fatal event with 300,000 deaths, and Hurricane Katrina in 2005 that was the most costly, with losses of $163.61 billion,” the report said.
The report showed an increasing trend in the number of disasters from the 1970s to the most recent decade, adding to signs that extreme weather events are becoming more frequent due to global warming.
The WMO attributed the growing frequency to both climate change and improved disaster reporting.
Costs from the events also surged from $175.4 billion in the 1970s to $1.38 trillion in the 2010s when storms such as Harvey, Maria, and Irma ripped through the United States.
But while hazards became more costly and frequent, the annual death count has fallen from more than 50,000 in the 1970s to around 18,000 in the 2010s, suggesting that better planning was paying off.
More than 91% of the 2 million deaths occurred in developing countries, the report said, noting that only half of the WMO’s 193 members have multi-hazard early warning systems.