Climate change: Extreme weather ‘affected 60m people in 2018’

Earthquakes and tsunamis accounted for the majority of the 10,733 lives lost in disasters last year

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Extreme weather events across the globe affected more than 60 million people last year.

Earthquakes and tsunamis accounted for the majority of the 10,733 lives lost in disasters in 2018, according to latest analysis of 281 events recorded by the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED).

The natural hazards such as earthquakes, volcanic activity and tsunamis disrupted the lives of 3.4 million people last year and claimed more lives than other hazard types – including Indonesia (4,417), Guatemala (425) and Papua New Guinea (145).

Floods also continued to affect the largest number of people – 34.5 million, including 23 million in Kerala in India – while storms affected 12.8 million people.

Wildfires in Europe and North America claimed a record number of lives, as Greece had the deadliest European wildfire on record and the US had its biggest one in over a century.

Mami Mizutori, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction said: “No part of the globe was spared from the impact of extreme weather events last year. Examined floods, droughts, storms and wildfires affected 57.3 million people, underlining once more that if we want to reduce disaster losses, then we must improve how we manage disaster risk.

“Time is running out for limiting global warming to 1.5˚C or 2˚C. We have to be equally active about climate change adaptation which means reducing disaster risk in our cities, avoiding the creation of new risk by better land use, stronger planning regulations and building codes, safeguarding protective eco-systems, reducing poverty and taking active measures to reduce exposure to rising sea levels.”

The report adds the number of lives lost last year compares with an annual average of 77,144 deaths recorded between 2000 and 2017, averages which are inflating by large-scale loss of life in catastrophic events such as the Indian Ocean tsunami (2004), Cyclone Nargis (2008) and the Haitian earthquake (2010).

It suggests there were no such mega-disasters in 2018 and loss of life from major natural hazards appears to be on the decline “likely due to improving standards of living and better disaster risk management”.

However, it notes the impact of all disasters, particularly drought and extreme temperatures are “notoriously poorly reported”, especially from low-income countries.