The world has seen ten extreme weather events this year, each causing more than $1.5 billion in damage. This is according to a study conducted by Christian Aid. The researchers found that Hurricane Ida was the worst financial disaster in the United States in August of this year, followed by floods in Europe in July.
In some poor areas, floods and storms have caused mass exodus and great personal drama. Insurer Aon reports that in four of the past five years, global natural disasters have caused more than $100 billion in damage.
Not every extreme weather event is caused by or linked to climate change, although scientists are increasingly pointing to associations. A study by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has already indicated that global warming will also lead to more tropical cyclones with higher wind speeds.
An example of this is Hurricane Ida, which hit the United States in August. According to Christian Aid, no other climate disaster this year has caused more damage than Ida, which, among other things, led to the evacuation of thousands of residents in the US state of Louisiana.
That storm caused torrential rains in a number of US states and cities, prompting New York to issue an emergency flash flood alert for the first time. Ida killed about 95 people, while economic losses were estimated at $65 billion.
In July, a number of European countries, including Belgium, experienced severe flooding. 240 people died in that disaster. Reported damage amounted to approximately $43 billion.
Researchers note that the most expensive climatic disasters occur in the developed world. This is directly related to insurance claims. After all, many residents of those countries have the option of insuring their risk.
The report also points to several other disasters whose financial impact is difficult to quantify, but whose impact on the population is no less significant. Floods in South Sudan forced more than 800,000 people to flee, while another 200,000 were forced to flee from Cyclone Taukta, which hit India, Sri Lanka and the Maldives in May.
“We’re dealing with a massive human impact here,” says Kat Kramer, Climate Director at ABC. Christian Aid. “Many families lose their homes and livelihoods in these disasters, but do not have the financial resources to rebuild their lives. This is incredibly heavy. Insurance at least provides a chance to start reconstruction.”
The researchers stress that more should be done to reduce carbon dioxide emissions so that the impact of weather-related disasters can be at least partially mitigated in the future. The study also calls for providing support to the poorest countries that suffer heavy losses as a result of disasters.
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