New York, US, October 13 : The United Nations on Monday warned that there has been a ‘staggering rise’ in natural disasters over the past 20 years due to climate change, and called on political and business leaders to take action to stop the planet from becoming an ‘uninhabitable hell for millions of people’.
According to a UN report called ‘The Human Cost of Disasters 2000-2019’, there were 7,348 major natural disasters between 2000 and 2019, including earthquakes, tsunamis and hurricanes, that claimed around 1.23 million lives, affected 4.2 billion people and resulted in global economic losses amounting to USD 2.97 trillion, which was almost double the disasters occurring between 1980 and 1999, CNN reported.
A majority of these disasters were climate-related, as researchers reported more flooding, storms, droughts, heatwaves, hurricanes and wildfires in the past 20 years.
Asia was the worst-hit area from climate disasters in the past 20 years, suffering from 3,068 disaster events between 2000 and 2019. That was followed by 1,756 disasters in the Americas and 1,192 in Africa.
The worst affected country over the past two decades is China, which experienced more than 500 natural disasters, followed by the United States with 467 disaster events.
Although UN reported some success in protecting vulnerable communities due to better early warning systems, such as disaster management agencies in countries like Bangladesh and India, which managed to save many lives through better preparedness for cyclones and floods, researchers warned that the odds continue to be stacked against these communities.
Furthermore, the report said that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic had exposed the failure of almost all nations to prevent a wave of death and illness despite repeated warnings from experts.
“It is baffling that we willingly and knowingly continue to sow the seeds of our own destruction,” CNN quoted UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) chief Mami Mizutori and Debarati Guha-Sapir of Belgium’s Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters, in a joint statement in the report.
Mizutori and Guha-Sapir called on countries to do more to strengthen disaster risk governance and to better prepare for future climate catastrophes.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said: “We have seen little progress on reducing climate disruption and environmental degradation. To eradicate poverty and reduce the impacts of climate change, we must place the public good above all other considerations.”