The world suffered 6,681 climate-related natural disasters in the first two decades of the 21st century, an increase of 80% more than the 3,656 registered in the last 20 years of the 20th century, revealed this Tuesday a UN study that shows – once again – the negative effects of climate change.
The research, prepared by the UN Office on Disaster Risk Reduction (Undrr), carried out for the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction, which is commemorated every October 13, confirms how extreme weather events came to dominate the panorama of the XXI century.
It shows that between 2000 and 2019 they died 1.23 million people in natural disasters (including those of climatic and geological origin, such as earthquakes), which affected 4.2 billion people.
In contrast, between 1980 and 1999 natural disasters, which do not include epidemics or pandemics, killed 1.19 million people and affected 3.25 billion.
Economic losses from these disasters amounted to $ 2.97 trillion in the first two decades of the 21st century, compared to 1.63 trillion in the previous period, although the UN recognizes difficulty in calculating these figures, especially in natural disasters that occurred in developing countries.
“More lives are being saved, but more people are being affected by the growing climate emergency“The United Nations special representative for disaster prevention, Mami Mizutori, concluded when presenting the study.
“The risk of catastrophe has become something systemic, with some disasters influencing others in such a way that our resistance is being pushed to the limit,” he stressed.
The report highlights, for example, that droughts increased by 29% in the period 2000-2019 with respect to 1980-1999, from 263 to 338, but the growth was even more striking in extreme weather events (heat and cold waves), which went from 130 to 432, an increase of 232%reported the EFE news agency.
So far this century, floods are the events that affected the most people (1,650 million), followed by droughts (1,430 million) and storms (727 million), for only 118 million in earthquakes.
The classification varies completely if one considers the mortality of these catastrophes, she earthquakes were the ones that killed the most people in the 21st century (721,000, 58 percent of the total), followed far behind by those killed in storms (199,000), 165,000 in extreme weather waves, and 104,000 in floods.
By region, Asia suffered the most natural disasters between 2000 and 2019 (3,068), followed by America (1,756) and Africa (1,192).
On the list of countries, China was hit the hardest. with 577 catastrophic events between 2000 and 2019, followed by the United States (467), India (321), the Philippines (304) and Indonesia (278).
The worst natural catastrophe of the century, in terms of fatalities, It was the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, which caused 226,400 deaths, followed by the 2010 Haiti earthquake (222,000) and Cyclone Nargis which in 2008 killed about 138,000 people in Burma (Myanmar).
In Europe, the 2003 heat wave caused more than 72,000 deaths, and the 2010 one in Russia killed 55,000 people, making it also on the list of worst catastrophes of this century.
The study indicates that 2004, 2008 and 2010 were the hardest years for this type of disaster, with more than 200,000 deaths in each of them, when the average of the century has been 60,000 and in the last decade no year exceeded 35,000 .
Although the research does not cover the epidemics and pandemics that have occurred in recent decades, which have also been increasing, Mizutori stressed that the coronavirus “has served to raise awareness among the population about the risk that surrounds us.”