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‘An uninhabitable hell’: UN says climate change ‘doubled the rate’ of disasters

The report found that there were 7348 major recorded disaster events between 2000 and 2019, compared with 4212 between 1980 and 1999.

Climate-related disasters explained the bulk of the rise, increasing from 3656 to 6681. Floods and storms were the most common events. The incidence of flooding more than doubled, from 1389 to 3254.

A boy uses half of a fiber tank to navigate a flooded street after heavy monsoon rains, in Karachi, Pakistan, in August.

A boy uses half of a fiber tank to navigate a flooded street after heavy monsoon rains, in Karachi, Pakistan, in August.Credit:AP

Mami Mizutori, the UN’s representative for disaster risk reduction, said that NGOs and emergency services were “fighting an uphill battle against an ever-rising tide of extreme weather events”. She added: “The odds are being stacked against us when we fail to act on science and early warnings to invest in prevention, climate-change adaptation and disaster-risk reduction,” she said.

Asia was the worst-hit continent and China the worst-affected country, followed by the US. Overall, more than 4 billion people were affected by disasters, a rise from 3.25 billion.

Though mobile phone technology and improved weather forecasting limited the lives lost to natural disasters, as the death toll grew from 1.19 million to 1.23 million over the past 20 years, the economic impact grew significantly, with agriculture in particular disrupted. While they were less common, geophysical disasters such as earthquakes and tsunamis were the most deadly, with the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami, which killed 226,400, recorded as the largest single event by death toll, followed by the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.

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The year 2020 was not included in the data, but has so far seen one of the most active fire and hurricane seasons the US has ever experienced, as well as significant flooding across Asia.

Climate scientists warned that a warmer climate makes hurricanes and severe storms more likely, and promotes the conditions that allow forest fires to start and spread.

The Telegraph, London

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