Climate change driving huge surge in natural disasters, United Nations finds

Katie Ramirez
October 14, 2020

The failures to prepare for a pandemic on the scale of COVID-19 underline the importance of disaster risk governance as the theme of this year's International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction on October 13.

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.

The report stated that the world economy has lost an estimated $3 trillion in the two decades due to the same reason. This is a dramatic increase on the 1980-1999 period, in which 4,212 disaster events were recorded, claiming approximately 1.19 million lives and affecting 3.25 billion people.

"It is baffling that we willingly and knowingly continue to sow the seeds of our own destruction, despite the science and evidence that we are turning our only home into an uninhabitable hell for millions of people", said the co-authors of a new report, "The Human Cost of Disasters 2000-2019".

"COVID-19 is but the latest proof that political and business leaders are yet to tune into the world around them", Mizutori said in a statement.

The last two decades have seen several climate-related emergencies, posing a major challenge to human life and its surrounding environment, according to a recent United Nations disaster report.

"But the odds continue to be stacked against them, in particular by industrial nations that are failing miserably on reducing greenhouse gas emissions", said Mami Mizutori, UNDRR chief, and Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction.

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The scientists set out interventions that should be considered for "immediate" introduction, including a short national "circuit-breaker" lockdown.

The sharp increase has been attributed to rising global temperatures, which scientists say is increasing the frequency of extreme weather and disaster events.

Calling upon people at all levels and sectors to engage in works of facing up to the natural disasters, PM Oli expressed the commitment to working together with national and worldwide organisations for disaster risk reduction and facing the disasters.

"Disaster risk governance depends on political leadership above all, and delivery on the promises made when the Paris agreement and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction were adopted", she said. Major floods had more than doubled to 3,254, and there were 2,034 major storms, up from 1,457 in the prior period.

Extreme weather events have increased dramatically in the last two decades; however, little progress has been made in reducing climate change and environmental degradation, the United Nations leader stressed.

His call came as the number of COVID-19 cases globally surpassed the 37.87 million mark, with a death toll exceeding 1.08 million.

The world is now well on its way to a 3.2-degree Celsius temperature increase, CNN reported, absent a drastic cut in greenhouse gas emissions that doesn't seem forthcoming.

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