The unequal burden of extreme weather and climate disasters
An updated, authoritative United Nations disasters analysis out this morning shows there were nearly 12,000 disasters attributable to extreme weather and climate-related events during the 1970-2021 period, Andrew writes.
The big picture: Such disasters are becoming more expensive, with a total bill of $4.3 trillion and rising. At the same time, however, they are getting less deadly.
- The pattern of disasters spotlights global inequality, with 90% of the slightly more than 2 million deaths during this period taking place in developing countries.
- However, the vast majority of economic losses stemmed from industrialized countries.
- Climate change is influencing the frequency and severity of certain extreme weather and climate events, particularly heat waves, extreme precipitation events and tropical cyclones.
- However, climate change is not thought to be the biggest driver of disaster loss trends, other research has found.
Zoom in: The update to the World Meteorological Organization’s (WMO) Atlas of Mortality and Economic Losses from Weather, Climate and Water-related hazards, extends the disaster metrics to 51 years.
- The U.S. alone took a US$1.7 trillion hit during the 1970-2021 period, accounting for about 40% of economic losses during the past 51 years.
- Extreme temperatures were the leading cause of reported deaths and floods drove the biggest costs, the WMO found.
- With certain types of extreme weather and climate events becoming more common and severe, the future of disaster losses will hinge on societal exposure to such hazards.
What we're watching: How the U.N.'s push to deploy early warning systems to every country by 2027 progresses.