Until recently it was well understood that the major drivers of weather related disasters were increased contact and vulnerability caused by poverty, the breakneck rate of urbanization in low and center earning countries, population growth, the destruction of protecting eco systems and low institutional capacity to manage catastrophe risk.
It’s usually accepted that weather change is in the mix, but it’s frequently hard to pinpoint the role it plays in particular catastrophe events. Over the last 20 years, some 90 of big recorded catastrophe events have been weather related.
The Emergency Events Database maintained by the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters, established at the University of Louvain, Belgium, recorded 6,454 weather related disasters between 1996 and 2016. There was a doubling of such events yearly over the last decade.
New research published in The Lancet, which looks on the possible affect of weather change in Europe and finds that weather related disasters could influence about two thirds of the European population annually by the year 2100 leaving as many as 351 million people exposed per year compared with 25 million people exposed per year throughout the reference period of 1981 to 2010. It’s a complete investigation of weather and demographic changes focused on natural hazards which because the most mortality and influence the highest numbers of people as well as heat waves and cold waves, wildfires, droughts, river and coastal floods, and windstorms in a business as usual scenario of greenhouse gas emissions.
A key finding is that there may be a 50-fold increase in mortality annually, 3,000 deaths, by the year 2100. In southern Europe, now suffering the ravages of the so called Lucifer heat wave and related wildfires, premature mortality linked to weather extremes could become the greatest environmental risk factor. As indicated by The Lancet, The projected changes are dominated by world warming accounting for more than 90 of the risk to human beings, primarily through a rise in the frequency of heat waves about 2,700 heat related fatalities per year throughout the reference period compared to 151,500 throughout the period 2071-100.
Those numbers are quite staggering. The implications of the results are profound for the rest of the world, especially low countries which can not access the kind of resources which Europe has for adaptation to weather change and decreasing the risk posed by extreme weather events. Many low income countries are struggling to put in place the most underlying of weather risk early warning systems that’s now the objective of a world initiative supported by the World Meteorological Organization, the World Bank and the UN Office for catastrophe Risk Reduction UNISDR in an effort to meet a key target of the Sendai Framework for catastrophe Risk Reduction adopted two years by UN Member States.
The Lancet results underline the size of the challenge facing many countries in regions of the world where weather related extreme events pose an greater threat than in Europe. The Sendai Framework sets targets for considerable reductions in catastrophe mortality, the numbers of catastrophe influenced people, economic losses and damage to important infrastructure by 2030. This research throws into stark break how hard it’ll be to decrease catastrophe losses and alleviate the affect on human health if there isn’t a big ramping up of mitigation, weather adaptation and risk reduction efforts in the direct future.
As the authors point out the results are especially relevant to a key priority for action in the Sendai Framework, Understanding catastrophe risk. A key element of developing this understanding at national and local level is the promotion of the collection, analysis, management and use of relevant data and to ensure its dissemination so that it may be acted on.
As we move towards the Sendai Framework’s 2020 deadline for a considerable increase in the number of countries with national and local catastrophe risk reduction strategies, we have to have a more worked on understanding of what the implications are for catastrophe risk management of weather change and population growth. These new research results are a welcome addition to our understanding of catastrophe risk in Europe but should also support alike investigations of the consequences of weather change in other parts of the world probably to suffer the worsening impacts of weather related disasters at some point.