Despite the world facing heightened economic losses, the improved early warnings and coordinated disaster management slashed human casualty toll over the past half a century, according to a new figure from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).
In the new analysis, the WMO said that extreme weather, climate and water-related events caused 11,778 reported disasters between 1970 and 2021. This led to just over two million deaths and 4.3 trillion dollar in economic loses.
WMO issued the new findings for the quadrennial World Meteorological Congress, which opens on May 22.
The WMO said that over 90% of reported deaths worldwide occurred in developing countries.The USA alone incurred $1.7 trillion, accounting for 39% of economic losses worldwide in the 51 years. But Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States suffered a disproportionately high cost in relation to the size of their economies.
“The most vulnerable communities unfortunately bear the brunt of weather, climate and water-related hazards,” said WMO Secretary-General Prof. Petteri Taalas.
“Extremely severe cyclonic storm Mocha exemplifies this. It caused widespread devastation in Myanmar and Bangladesh, impacting the poorest of the poor. In the past, both Myanmar and Bangladesh suffered death tolls of tens and even hundreds of thousands of people. Thanks to early warnings and disaster management these catastrophic mortality rates are now thankfully history. Early warnings save lives.”
- Developed economiesreported over sixty percent of economic losses due to weather-, climate- and water-related disasters. However, the economic losses were equivalent to less than 0.1% of the gross domestic product (GDP) in respective economies in more than four fifths of these disasters. No disasters were reported with economic losses greater than 3.5% of the respective GDPs.
- In Least Developed Countries, 7% of disasters for which economic losses were reported had an impact equivalent to more than 5% of the respective GDP.
- In Small Island Developing States, 20% of disasters with reported economic losses led to an impact equivalent to more than 5% of the respective GDPs.
Africa: In Africa, 1 839 disasters attributed to weather, climate and water extremes were reported between 1970 and 2021. They caused 733 585 deaths and US$ 43 billion in economic losses. Droughts accounted for 95% of reported deaths.
Tropical cyclone Idai in March 2019 was the costliest event that occurred in Africa (US$2.1 billion)
Asia: There were 3 612 disasters attributed to weather, climate and water extremes were reported, with 984 263 deaths and US$ 1.4 trillion in economic losses
Between 1970 and 2021, Asia accounted for 47% of all reported deaths worldwide, with tropical cyclones being the leading cause of reported deaths. Tropical cyclone Nargis in 2008 led to 138 366 deaths. Bangladesh has highest death toll in Asia with 520 758 deaths due to 281 events.
South America: 943 disasters attributed to weather, climate and water. Floods accounted for 61% of these. They resulted in 58484 deaths and US$ 115.2 billion in economic losses.
North America, Central America and Caribbean: 2107 disasters resulted in 77454 deaths and US$ 2.0 trillion in economic losses.
Between 1970 and 2021, the region accounted for 46% of reported economic losses worldwide. The USA alone incurred US$1.7 trillion, accounting for 39% of losses worldwide in the 51 years. Most of the reported economic losses were attributed to storm-related disasters, and more specifically, to tropical cyclones.
South-West Pacific: There were 1 493 disasters due to weather, climate and water extremes were reported in South-West Pacific. They resulted in 66 951 deaths and US$ 185.8 billion in economic losses. Tropical cyclones were the leading cause of death.
Europe: 1784 disasters causing 166492 deaths and loss of US$ 562.0 billion. Between 1970 and 2021, Europe accounted for 8% of reported deaths worldwide.