Thursday, 16 July 2015

Natural disaster and extreme weather death toll on the rise

In the first half of 2015, 16,000 people died worldwide in natural tragedies, including earthquakes and heatwaves, up from 2014. There has been a major global spike in deaths resulting from natural catastrophes, including earthquakes and heatwaves, in the first half of 2015, according to data from the largest reinsurance company in the world, Munich Re.

The mid-year natural disaster assessment was marked by catastrophic earthquakes in Nepal and intense heatwaves in India and Pakistan, together amounting to some 12,000 fatalities. "The natural catastrophes in the first half of the year show us once again that vulnerability to natural catastrophes needs to be reduced, particularly in emerging and developing countries,” said Munich Re Board member Torsten Jeworrek in a statement.

In total, in the first six months of the year, 16,000 people worldwide died as victims of severe weather and earthquakes.

The number is a major increase from 2,800 natural disaster deaths in the same period in 2014, the reinsurance company reported. In Nepal's 7.8 magnitude earthquake in April alone, at least 8,850 people were killed and thousands of homes and institutions left in ruins.

But while the death toll is on the rise, the cost of disasters is down by about US$7 billion, falling to US$35 billion from US$42 billion, according to Munich Re. Some of this year's extreme weather is related to the strong El Nino event predicted for 2015, a climatic phenomenon in the Pacific Ocean that can trigger floods, droughts, and other extreme conditions around the world.

"The currently already intense El Nino phase is expected to become even stronger as we head into the autumn," said Munich Re. But El Nino's disruption of regular climatic patterns could also mean fewer Atlantic hurricanes in the U.S., even while it unleashes tornadoes in southern U.S., scorching heat in Asia, drought in the Caribbean, floods in South America, and other extreme weather.

The frequency and intensity of extreme weather events like heatwaves are expected to increase with climate change. Scientists have warned that the world could face climate and public health catastrophe in ten years if decisive action is not taken.

Thursday 16 July 2015


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