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Eight ways climate change is making the world more dangerous

 

Aftermath of Hurricane Sandy

A National Guard humvee travels through high water after Hurricane Sandy. Photograph: Alex Brandon/AP

 

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Eight ways climate change is making the world more dangerous” was written by Suzanne Goldenberg, for theguardian.com on Monday 14th July 2014 10.08 UTC

Forget the future. The world already is nearly five times as dangerous and disaster prone as it was in the 1970s, because of the increasing risks brought by climate change, according to a new report from the World Meteorological Organisation.

The first decade of the 21st century saw 3,496 natural disasters from floods, storms, droughts and heatwaves. That was nearly five times as many disasters as the 743 catastrophes reported during the 1970s – and all of those extreme weather events are influenced by climate change.

The bottom line: natural disasters are occurring nearly five times as often as they were in the 1970s. But some disasters – such as floods and storms – pose a bigger threat than others. Flooding and storms are also taking a bigger bite out of the economy. But heatwaves are an emerging killer.

1) We’re going to need a bigger boat – or flood defences.

Global Natural Disasters

Key: Dark blue = floods. Light blue = mass movement wet. Green = storms. Yellow = drought. Magenta = extreme temperature. Orange = Wildfires. Photograph: /WMO

Flooding and mega-storms were by far the leading cause of disaster from 2000-2010. About 80% of the 3,496 disasters of the last decade were due to flooding and storms. Seas are rising because of climate change. So are extreme rain storms. There is growing evidence that warming temperatures are increasing the destructive force of hurricanes.

2) Heatwaves are the new killer.

Deaths from Natural Disasters

Key: Dark blue = floods. Light blue = mass movement wet. Green = storms. Yellow = drought. Magenta = extreme temperature. Orange = Wildfires

Heatwaves didn’t even register as a threat in the 1970s. By 2010, they were one of the leading causes of deaths in natural disasters, along with storms. In Russia alone, more than 55,000 people died as a result of heatwave in 2010.

 

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