AT a time when Chennai has been pounded by over 1,000 mm of rainfall over the last few days, a United Nations report—The Human Cost of Weather Related Disasters—shows that over 90% of disasters over the last 20 years (1995-2014) have been caused by floods, storms, heatwaves and other weather-related events. The report comes before the climate change summit in Paris in December where there will be efforts to seal a pact to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
It has been found that the US, China, India and the Philippines have had the highest number of disasters. The 6,457 weather-related disasters claimed over 0.6 million lives and affected over 4 billion people. Floods accounted for 47% of all weather-related disasters, storms accounted for killing 240,000 people. During 2005-14, there have been on an average of 335 weather-related disasters recorded per year, up 14% from 1995-2004. That’s almost one disaster a day. The Belgium-based Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters and the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) that jointly brought out the report state that, on average, 165 million people were affected each year between 2005 and 2014, down from 245 million (1995-2004). There is an economic cost too. According to UNISDR, that would range $250-300 billion annually. That’s a huge price to pay for ignoring climate change.