Mankind is now engaging in the biggest battle ever seen
ALJAZEERA – Climate change and poor planning are worsening the toll in lives and money that natural disasters wreak worldwide.
We are in a really delicate situation now where even our survival may be in jeopardy. The list of problems facing our planet is growing everyday. Natural disasters are increasing around the world claiming lives and costing billions of dollars in damage. The UN has estimated the direct economic cost of disasters since 2000 is roughly $1.4tn, cautioning that the total price tag on people’s livelihoods and the wider economy are never fully counted.
Japan’s earthquake and tsunami of 2011 was probably the most costly natural disaster in history, causing losses of hundreds of billions of dollars. Last October’s Superstorm Sandy cost the United States more than $50bn, while also devastating Cuba, Haiti, and other Caribbean nations. Record wildfires last year in Russia and the US burned through millions of acres, following another unprecedented Russian summer in 2010 when heat waves claimed 55,000 lives.
The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reported last year that droughts and heat waves are growing harsher and longer in many regions, causing deaths, fires and crop failure. When rain does come, it is often more intense, causing flooding and landslides. Meanwhile, rising sea levels increase the height and damage potential of storm surges in coastal areas.
In 2005, the Hyogo Framework for Action was adopted to encourage countries to become more resilient in the face of natural disasters. But the Global Assessment Report reveals that efforts have had limited success so far. 121 countries have passed legislation for reducing disaster risks since 2005, and more than half of the governments have made substantial progress in assessing and monitoring the risks their people face. But this has had no discernible affect on disaster losses, which continue to stack up around the world.
So far, each step towards a global framework for addressing disasters has been framed by massive natural events. The Hyogo Framework was established in Kobe, Japan, as bodies were still being recovered from the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004. The recent disasters casting shadows on this year’s event brought greater attention to the likelihood that climate change is worsening the intensity of weather events. Other than climate change, reckless urban development, the exploitation of groundwater, and deforestation are increasing the likelihood of disasters large and small, and weaken the resilience of communities to withstand them. The Global Assessment Report highlighted that many people suffering the worst effects of climate disasters are not the ones contributing to them.
And this is only the beginning.