Humans could suffer 560 catastrophic disasters every year by 2030: UN report
Amid the growing consequences of climate change, catastrophic disasters are one of the most devastating that can affect lives and livelihoods globally. A new report by the United Nations paints a grim picture of the situation hinting that the planet could be hit harder in the coming years by even more catastrophes.
The report stated that if the current trends continue unchecked, the world is headed towards suffering about 560 catastrophes a year by 2030, higher than 400 disasters per year in 2015. The report identifies the disasters many of them weather-related, such as fires and floods, but also other hazards such as pandemics or chemical accidents.
"Climate change is increasing the magnitude, frequency, duration, and severity of climate-related hazards. It has become a major driver of disaster losses and development achievement setbacks," the scientific report said adding that from 1970 to 2000, the world suffered just 90 to 100 medium to large scale disasters a year.
The report revealed that the number of extreme heatwaves in 2030 will be three times what it was in 2001 and there will be 30 per cent more droughts. Meanwhile, it not only talked about natural disasters but also looked at COVID-19, economic meltdowns, and food shortages, all triggered by climate change.
Climate change is causing more extreme weather events, it said, adding that humans have made decisions that are too narrow in focus and have been over-optimistic about the risk of potential disasters, leaving them unprepared. The impact of disasters has also been heightened by growing populations in areas more prone to natural catastrophes, the report said.
“If we don’t get ahead of the curve, it will reach a point where we cannot manage the consequences of a disaster," said Mami Mizutori, chief of the UN Office of Disaster Risk Reduction, expressing that people have not grasped how much disasters already cost today. The report highlighted that about 90 per cent of the spending on disasters currently is emergency relief, with only 6 per cent on reconstruction and 4 per cent on prevention.
In 1990, disasters cost the world about $70 billion a year. Now they cost more than $170 billion a year, and that’s after adjusting for inflation, according to the report authors. Nor does that include indirect costs we seldom think about that add up, Mizutori said.
Amina J Mohammed, UN Deputy Secretary-General, who presented the report at UN headquarters in New York told Reuters, "The world needs to do more to incorporate disaster risk in how we live, build and invest, which is setting humanity on a spiral of self-destruction. We must turn our collective complacency to action."
Disasters disproportionately impact developing countries, which lose an average 1 per cent of GDP a year to them, compared to 0.1-0.3 per cent in developed countries, the report said.
The Asia-Pacific region suffers the highest damage, losing an average 1.6 per cent of GDP to disasters annually. Developing countries also tend to be underinsured. Only 40 per cent of disaster-related losses since 1980 were insured.