15,000 Extreme Weather Events Between 1993-2012:
530,000 People Dead And Losses Of More Than $2.5 Trillion
13 November 2013
More than 530,000 persons died as a direct result of approximately 15,000 extreme weather incidents, and losses between 1993 and 2012 amounted to more than US$2.5 trillion, says Global Climate Risk Index 2014 released by Germanwatch on November 12, 2013 at the Warsaw climate crisis talks.
The countries affected most in 2012 were Haiti , the Philippines and Pakistan . They are followed by Madagascar , Fiji and Serbia .
For the period from 1993 to 2012 Honduras , Myanmar and Haiti rank highest. They are followed by Nicaragua , Bangladesh and Vietnam .
The briefing paper authored by Sönke Kreft & David Eckstein analyses the extent countries have been affected by the impact of weather-related loss events (storms, floods, heat waves etc.).
This year's 9th edition of the analysis, edited by Birgit Kolboske, Daniela Baum and Gerold Kier, reconfirms that less developed countries are generally more affected than industrialized countries. From the ten most affected countries (1993–2012) eight were developing countries in the low-income or lower-middle income country group while two belong to the upper-middle income countries.
The Climate Risk Index may serve as a red signal for already existing vulnerability that may further increase in regions, where extreme events will become more frequent or more severe due to climate change.
“The index shows that the most severe weather related catastrophes in 2012 occurred in Haiti , Philippines and Pakistan ”, says Sönke Kreft, Team Leader International Climate Policy at Germanwatch and co-author of the index.
“The unfolding human tragedy caused by super-Typhoon Haiyan will only be captured in future reports. The Global Climate Risk Index 2014 tells the story of a country constantly battered by climate-related catastrophes”, explains Kreft.
"Our results are really a wake-up call to ramp up international climate policy and to better manage weather-related disasters”, says Kreft. “The year 2015 represents a major milestone, which needs to deliver a new climate agreement, and the international disaster framework is also up for renewal.”
Kreft says: “Eastern European countries, including Russia and Poland , feature high in the index in terms of vulnerability. Ironically, these countries often reflect less ambitious climate policies. For these countries the COP in Warsaw should be a turning point to move away from coal and oil dependency.”
The index ranks countries according to relative and absolute number of human victims, and relative and absolute economic damage. The core data stems from the Munich Re NatCatSERVICE. The most recent available data from 2012 as well as for the 20-year-period 1993-2012 were taken into account for the preparation of this index.
The index indicates a level of exposure and vulnerability to extreme events that countries should understand as warning to be prepared for more frequent and/or more severe events in the future.
Due to the limitations of available data, particularly long-term comparative including socio-economic data, some very small countries, such as certain small island states, are not included in this analysis.
The data only reflects the direct impacts (direct losses and fatalities) of extreme weather events, whereas for example heat waves — which are a frequent occurrence in African countries — often lead to much stronger indirect impacts (e.g. as a result of droughts and food scarcity).
It does not include the total number of affected people (in addition to the fatal casualties), since the comparability of such data is very limited.
The authors said:
The report does not take into account other important aspects such as sea-level rise, glacier melting or more acid and warmer seas.
Also, it is important to note that — due to methodological reasons — a single extreme event cannot be solely attributed to anthropogenic climate change.
The report finds:
There is an increasing number of particularly extreme weather events (such as the 2010 Russian heat wave and 2010 Pakistan flood) that scientists too have at least partially attributed to the influence of climate change.
For the last 20 years the ten most affected countries are without exception developing nations - with Honduras , Myanmar and Haiti taking the worst brunt during the period 1993-2012.
The landfall of Hurricane Sandy in the US dominated international news in October 2012. Yet, it was Haiti - the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere - that suffered the greatest losses from the same event.
The 2012 droughts and floods in large areas of the Balkan, eastern Europe and southern Russia in the aftermath of the unparalleled 2010 wildfires have proven the climate vulnerability of the region that hosts the CoP 19 in Warsaw .
The briefing paper cited a 2012 study published by the World Bank ( Turn Down the Heat: Why a 4°C Warmer World Must be Avoided ) that highlights the existential threats the world, and in particular the vulnerable people in developing countries would face in a 4°C warmer world, a temperature increase that the international community still can and must avoid. However, if mitigation action is not stepped up drastically the world is on the road towards dangerous climate change.
The index shows:
However, what the media often failed to mention was the impact the “Frankenstorm” had on countries outside the US . The hurricane wreaked havoc in the Caribbean with Haiti being hit hardest. In the Caribbean country that is still recovering from the devastating earthquake in 2010, the heavy rainfalls fuelled by Sandy not only left 200,000 people homeless, but also destroyed much of the country's crops, which had already been affected by Hurricane Isaac in late August 2012.
Pakistan , which had already suffered severe floodings in 2010 and 2011, was struck again by a rough monsoon season killing over 650 people.
The year 2012 was also an extreme year for Russia , where the worst floods in recent decades hit the region of Krasnodar causing USD 400 millions in total damages.
For the first time since 2008, Madagascar features in this year's Down 10 list. Its reappearance this year must be attributed to the 2011–12 South-West Indian Ocean cyclone season, which featured two severe storms — Severe Tropical Storm Irina and Intense
Tropical Cyclone Giovanna — that hit Madagascar , killing over 100 people and causing damages amounting to USD 350 millions.
Fiji and Samoa are often affected by extreme weather events due to their high exposure to the South Pacific tropical cyclone season. In 2012, both islands were damaged considerably by Cyclone Evan, which first hit Samoa in early December before continuing its trajectory towards Fiji .
In Samoa , the storm was considered the worst tropical cyclone since 20 years and caused damages of almost 20% of the country's GDP.
More surprising than the appearance of the previously mentioned countries is the fact that
Bosnia and Herzegovina , Serbia and Nigeria are this year included in the Down 10 list.
After facing the hottest summer in 40 years, the Balkan countries suffered from extensive droughts that destroyed most of the crops, amounting to agricultural losses of more than USD 2.5 billion.
In Nigeria , heavy rainfalls in July 2012 triggered the worst floods in five decades claiming over 400 victims and displacing 2 million people.
The report mentioned progress in science in attributing extreme events to climate change and said:
While a couple of years ago there was hardly any extreme weather event that science experts clearly linked to climate change, the scientific community has now advanced.
It discussed Europe's hottest summer (2003) in at least 500 years with high death toll exceeding 70,000, England and Wales' wettest ever May to July (2007) since records began in 1766, hottest summer on record in Greece since 1891, hottest and driest spring on record in France since 1880, French grain harvest down by 12 %, Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Louisiana (US) (2011) record-breaking summer heat and drought since 1880, wildfires burning 3 million acres (preliminary impact of USD 6 to 8 billion), Continental US (2012) July warmest month on record since 1895 associated with severe drought conditions, abrupt global food price increase due to crop losses, etc.
Devastating wildfires, driest winter, substantial damage to cereal production, heat wave breaking many station temperature records (32-154 years of data), bushfires on record, hottest summer since 1500, wildfires, crop failure, economic losses, flooding, heaviest rains, drought, record low water level in Rio Negro, significantly increased tree mortality, etc. incidents in Western Europe, Russia, Eastern Mediterranean, Middle East, Australia, Western Amazon, Colombia and other regions were also mentioned in the report.
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