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Steady Increase in Climate Related Natural Disasters

November 15, 2013; 3:38 PM

The incidence of natural disasters worldwide has steadily increased, especially since the 1970's, according to a report from the New England Journal of Medicine.

Then main reason for this increase in the steady uptick of climate-related disasters.

Image below courtesy of EM-DAT International Disaster Database, Center for Research on Epidemiology of Disasters, University of Louvain.

Since 1990, natural disasters have affected about 217 million people every year.

Geophysical disasters include earthquakes, volcanoes, dry rockfalls, landslides and avalanches.

Climate-related disasters include hydrological events such as floods, storm surge and coastal flooding, while meteorological events include storms, tropical cyclones, local storms, heat/cold waves, drought and wildfires.

The number of geophysical disasters has remained fairly stable since the 1970's, while the number of climate-related (hydro-meteorological) disasters has greatly increased.

As a result, the amount of economic damage due to these natural disasters has seen a steady upturn.

There were three times as many natural disasters between 2000 to 2009 compared to the amount between 1980 and 1989. A vast majority (80%) of this growth is due to climate-related events.

According to the New England Journal of Medicine, the scale of disasters has expanded, owing to increased rates of urbanization, deforestation, environmental degradation and to intensifying climate variables such as higher temperatures, extreme precipitation and more violent wind/water storms.

The report goes on to say..... natural disasters, particularly floods and storms, will become more frequent and severe because of climate change. Organized deadly onslaughts against civilian populations will continue, fueled by the availability of small arms, persistent social and political inequities, and, increasingly, by a struggle for natural resources. These events affect the mortality, morbidity, and well-being of large populations. Humanitarian relief will always be required, and there is a demonstrable need, as in other areas of global health, to place greater emphasis on prevention and mitigation.

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of AccuWeather, Inc. or AccuWeather.com

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