By Asmau Ahmad
The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) says water-related hazards dominated the list of disasters in terms of both human and economic toll over the past 50 years.
WMO in a report released on Friday stated that against the backdrop of a rapidly changing global climate, water-related hazards dominated the list of natural disaster with the highest human losses.
According to WMO’s Atlas of Mortality and Economic Losses from Weather, Climate and Water Extremes, of the top 10 disasters, the hazards that lead to the largest human losses during the period have been droughts with 650,000 deaths.
“It stated that storms accounted for 577,232 deaths, floods 58,700 deaths, and extreme temperature, 55,736 deaths. That Atlas will be published in September.”
With regard to economic losses, it stated that the top 10 events included storms and floods.
The data also showed that over the 50-year period, weather, climate and water hazards accounted for 50 per cent of all disasters, 45 per cent of all reported deaths and 74 per cent of all reported economic losses at the global level.
The report estimated that of the top 10 events examined between 1970 and 2019, storms accounted for approximately 521 billion dollars in economic losses while floods accounted for about 115 billion dollars.
Excerpts from the report showed that floods and storms resulted in the largest losses in Europe in the past 50 years, at a cost of 377.5 billion dollars.
“A 2002 flood in Germany caused 16.48 billion dollars in losses, representing the single costliest event in Europe during the period studied. Across the continent, a total of 1,672 recorded disasters resulted in nearly 160,000 deaths and 476.5 billion dollars in economic damages.
“Weather, climate and water-related hazards are increasing in frequency and intensity as a result of climate change,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.
He added that the human and economic toll was highlighted with tragic effect by the torrential rainfall and devastating flooding and loss of life in Central Europe and China in the past week.
According to him, the recent record-breaking heatwaves in North America are clearly linked to global warming.
Taalas cited a recent rapid attribution analysis that climate change, caused by greenhouse gas emissions made the heatwave at least 150 times more likely to happen.
Emphasising that no country was immune from such changes, he said it was imperative to invest more in climate change adaptation, including strengthening multi-hazard early warning systems.