Climate change “worsens disasters”

Natural disasters will be aggravated by climate change, according to a United Nations-backed study, and people in developing nations are most at risk, Reuters reported. Presented on the sidelines of the UN climate talks in Bonn, the study urged governments to invest hundreds of billions of dollars to reduce the impacts of cyclones, floods, droughts, landslides, earthquakes and tsunamis.


“Climate change will magnify the uneven distribution of risk, skewing disaster impacts even further towards poor communities in developing countries,” the Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction said. Andrew Maskrey, lead author of the report, said that developing countries with large populations — led by China, India, Bangladesh and Indonesia — suffered the most fatalities from natural disasters.


“But you also have to look at it in relative terms — the proportion of the population at risk,” Maskrey said. By that measure, those at risk were mainly small countries, many of them island nations. Dominica in the Caribbean and Vanuatu in the Pacific, along with Myanmar and Guatemala, led the list.


In such nations, risks of an individual dying from cyclones, floods, earthquakes or landslides were close to one in 10,000 per year, the report said. The survey did not account for drought risks, which would have increased the hazards for African states. According to the report, the safest places to avoid natural disasters include Saudi Arabia, Oman, Belgium and Britain.


“Risk is increasing globally even without climate change,” the report said, largely because of a rising world population, with more people living in vulnerable areas. Maskrey warned that converting mangroves into shrimp farms could make coasts more vulnerable to storm surges. Also, draining wetlands to build houses hinders soil’s ability to regulate floods, and deforestation loosens soil and adds to landslide risks.


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