Many natural disasters are directly linked with the climate change including floods, hurricanes, heat waves, droughts, wildfires and storms. Such disasters have claimed more than 600,000 lives in the past two decades. The frequency and magnitude of these disasters are increasing with time and is not going to subside even with the plans of reducing our greenhouse gas (GHG) emission and signing of climate change agreement at Paris.
UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction recorded an average of 335 weather-related disasters between 2005 and 2014, an increase of 14% from 1995-2004, and almost twice the level recorded during 1985-1995. According to the report, 4.1 billion people were injured, left homeless or were in need of emergency assistance as a result of weather-related disasters between 1995 and 2015. About 332,000 deaths occurred and 3.7 billion people were affected in Asia alone. These figures are alarming and an eye opener to all of us to understand and to promptly react to this urgent problem based on our floods and storms accounted for the majority of deaths due to weather related natural disasters.
As per data, floods accounted for 47% of all weather-related disasters from 1995-2015, affecting 2.3 billion people and killing 157,000. Storms were the deadliest type of weather-related disaster, accounting for 242,000 deaths or 40% of the global weather-related deaths, with 89% of these deaths occurring in lower income countries.
Extreme temperatures as a result of global warming caused deaths of about 164,000 people, of which 148,000 deaths, about 92%, were caused due to heat waves; 90% of the deaths from heat waves occurred in Europe alone. In Russia, more than 55,000 people died as a result of heat wave in 2010 and total deaths were 70,000 in 2003 in Europe.
According to the World Bank’s “Natural Disaster Hotspots: A Global Risk Analysis” report released in March 2015, more than 160 countries have more than a quarter of their populations in areas of high mortality risks from one or more natural disasters. The first decade of the 21st century saw 3,496 natural disasters from floods, storms, droughts and heat waves.
As per the World Meteorological Organisation, the world is nearly five times as dangerous and disaster prone as it was in the 1970s, because of the increasing risks brought by climate change. The cost of disasters rose to $864bn in the last decade. We need to understand that the climate changes are not uniformly spread around the world. The sea level rise is expected to be 10-15% higher in countries closer to the equator, low lying, coastal countries and small island states like Bahrain. The warming will bring more droughts, flooding, sea level rise, heat stress, more water consumption, more energy and cooling requirements and spread of waterborne diseases like cholera and diarrhoea. Thus, it will affect all of us irrespective of our location and status.
Bahrain understands its position and has been proactive in planning and designing efforts to tackle this global problem by investing in infrastructures, safe reclamation and preparing disaster management plans to respond to the threats and catastrophes. The time has come for every individual to adopt environmentally safe habits and caring attitude towards finite natural resources.