By Isabel Saco
Disasters attributed each year to climatic phenomena have been 335 on average, which represents 14 percent more than in the previous decade and double that in the period 1985-1995.
This information is supported by statistics from the Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED), a scientific entity that collects and analyzes this information on a global scale.
Margaret Wahlstrom *: "The poorest countries are the most affected by the economic impact of disasters, both in relation to the size of their economies and their populations" (* head of the United Nations Office for Disaster Reduction),
The evidence allows us to anticipate that climate-related disasters "will increase over time," said the expert when presenting the report as a prelude to the world summit on climate change (Cop 21) that will begin in a week in Paris.
The UN body considers that this summit - focused on obtaining commitments from countries to reduce carbon emissions - may be crucial in the long term to reduce the damage and human losses caused by disasters, whose intensity and effects increase with global warming.
According to the study presented today, 90 percent of natural disasters are related to the weather, while the remaining 10 percent are geophysical in origin (earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and landslides).
Of the first group, the most deadly and with the most serious effects are floods and droughts, which cause 80 percent of victims and are predominant in both rich and poor regions of countries.
Some of the victims of disasters suffer their impact for more than a year and are counted more than once as victims since the statistics are updated annually, explained the CRED expert, Debarati Guha-Sapir.
Wahlstrom explained that at the Paris summit, among other things of prime importance, the future productivity of agriculture is at stake, since more and more harvest seasons are lost as climatic disasters increase.
Many times this does not happen immediately after the disaster, but two to three months later, while the increasing inability to forecast the rains - due to derangements caused by climate change - is becoming another big problem for farmers. .
On the other hand, the UN report ensures that the economic losses caused by climate-related disasters are much higher than the 1.8 trillion dollars reported in the last twenty years, since only 35 percent of reports Disaster contain information on their financial cost.
What is known is that these types of catastrophes account for 70 percent of all economic losses caused by disasters in general and that the vast majority are reported by rich countries.
The frequency of climate-related disasters is undoubtedly increasing and in the last twenty years have claimed an annual average of 30,000 lives and caused more than 4,000 million injured or affected, according to a report published today by a specialized agency of the ONU.
“The expanded informal economy in many developing countries does not report economic losses” in disasters, which explains that only between 20 and 25 percent of reported losses come from developing countries.
In high-income countries, the climate disaster that has wreaked the most damage in the past 15 years is extreme temperatures, both high and low, accounting for 41 percent of all disasters reported in that period.
By region, Asia has been the country most affected by disasters, with 332,000 deaths, although more than a third of them were the result of a unique phenomenon: the cyclone Narguís that hit Burma in 2008.
In absolute figures, the countries with the highest number of disasters are the United States, China and India, the first with hurricanes and the last two with floods.
Guha-Sapir recalled that floods and droughts have become the factors of forced migration and civil uprisings.
Faced with this detailed diagnosis, Wahlstrom said that the negotiations at the Paris summit should result in “practical and effective solutions” to the problems that climate change is generating.
He added that an agreement will be essential to obtain funds to implement disaster mitigation and adaptation plans.