Quantcast

Climate Disasters Now Happening Weekly, UN Official Warns

Climate
A woman in Macomia, northern Mozambique assesses the damage after a baobab tree slammed into her home during Cyclone Kenneth on April 28. EMIDIO JOZINE / AFP / Getty Images

By Jessica Corbett

A "staggering" new warning from a top United Nations official that climate crisis-related disasters are now occurring at the rate of one per week, with developing nations disproportionately at risk, provoked calls for immediate global action to combat the human-caused climate emergency.



The warning came in an interview with The Guardian, which reported Sunday:

Catastrophes such as cyclones Idai and Kenneth in Mozambique and the drought afflicting India make headlines around the world. But large numbers of "lower impact events" that are causing death, displacement, and suffering are occurring much faster than predicted, said Mami Mizutori, the U.N. secretary-general's special representative on disaster risk reduction. "This is not about the future, this is about today."
This means that adapting to the climate crisis could no longer be seen as a long-term problem, but one that needed investment now, she said. "People need to talk more about adaptation and resilience."

"We talk about a climate emergency and a climate crisis, but if we cannot confront this [issue of adapting to the effects] we will not survive," Mizutori added. "We need to look at the risks of not investing in resilience."

The estimated annual cost of climate-related disasters is $520 billion, the newspaper noted, "while the additional cost of building infrastructure that is resistant to the effects of global heating is only about 3 percent, or $2.7 trillion in total over the next 20 years."

"This is not a lot of money [in the context of infrastructure spending], but investors have not been doing enough," said Mizutori. "Resilience needs to become a commodity that people will pay for."

Mizutori said that improving the systems that warn the public of severe weather and expanding awareness of which places and people are most vulnerable could help prevent lower impact disasters. She noted that while urgent work is needed to prepare the developing world, richer countries are also experiencing the consequences of global heating — including devastating wildfires and dangerous heatwaves.

The adaption measures Mizutori called for include raising — and enforcing — infrastructure standards to make houses and businesses, roads and railways, and energy and water systems more capable of withstanding the impacts of the warming world, which scientists warn will increasing mean more frequent and intense extreme weather events. She also highlighted the potential of "nature-based solutions."

Peter Strachan — a professor and expert on energy policy, environmental management and energy transitions at the UK's Robert Gordon University — called the report "staggering" and alerted several environmental and climate advocacy groups on Twitter.

Sharing The Guardian's article on Twitter, the U.S.-based youth-led Sunrise Movement declared: "This is an emergency. We need political leadership that acts like it."

"This is why it's so offensive to talk about climate impacting 'our children/grandchildren,'" tweeted War on Want executive director Asad Rehman, referencing a common talking point among U.S., European and UN leaders. "Do people of global South facing disaster every week not deserve the right to life? The answer from rich countries and those who call for net zero by 2050 is a big No."

Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Justin Trudeau delivers remarks during an election rally in Markham, Ontario, Canada, on Sept. 15. Creative Touch Imaging Ltd. / NurPhoto via Getty Images

By Chloe Farand for Climate Home News

Canadians are voting on Monday in an election observers say will define the country's climate future.

Read More Show Less
Activists Greta Thunberg (2ndL), Iris Duquesne(C), and Alexandria Villaseñor (3rd R) attend a press conference where 16 children present their official human rights complaint on the climate crisis to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child at the UNICEF Building on Sept. 23 in NYC. KENA BETANCUR / AFP / Getty Images

By Jessica Taft

Fifteen kids from a dozen countries, including Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, recently brought a formal complaint to the United Nations. They're arguing that climate change violates children's rights as guaranteed by the Convention on the Rights of the Child, a global agreement.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Cleanup costs for abandoned oil and gas wells once the producers have moved on could fall heavily on the public.
Susan Vineyard / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Justin Mikulka

Increasingly, U.S. shale firms appear unable to pay back investors for the money borrowed to fuel the last decade of the fracking boom. In a similar vein, those companies also seem poised to stiff the public on cleanup costs for abandoned oil and gas wells once the producers have moved on.

Read More Show Less
Blue tarps given out by FEMA cover several roofs two years after Hurricane Maria affected the island in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Sept. 18. RICARDO ARDUENGO / AFP / Getty Images

Top officials at the Department of Housing and Urban Development confirmed to lawmakers last week that they knowingly — and illegally — stalled hurricane aid to Puerto Rico.

Read More Show Less
Actress Jane Fonda (C) and actor Sam Waterston (L) participate in a protest in front of the U.S. Capitol during a "Fire Drill Fridays" climate change protest and rally on Capitol Hill, Oct. 18. Mark Wilson / Getty Images News

It appears Jane Fonda is good for her word. The actress and political activist said she would hold demonstrations on Capitol Hill every Friday through January to demand action on the climate crisis. Sure enough, Fonda was arrested for demonstrating a second Friday in a row Oct. 18, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Only this time, her Grace and Frankie co-star Sam Waterston joined her.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Visitors look at the Aletsch glacier above Bettmeralp, in the Swiss Alps, on Oct. 1. The mighty Aletsch — the largest glacier in the Alps — could completely disappear by the end of this century if nothing is done to rein in climate change, a study showed on Sept. 12. FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP via Getty Images

Switzerland's two Green parties made historic gains in the country's parliamentary elections Sunday, according to projections based on preliminary results reported by The New York Times.

Read More Show Less
A mural in Richwood, West Virginia, a once booming Appalachia coal town, honors the community's history. Jeff Greenberg / Universal Images Group / Getty Images

By Jeff Turrentine

The coal industry is dying. But we can't allow the communities that have been dependent on coal to die along with it.

Read More Show Less
ThitareeSarmkasat / iStock / Getty Images

by Jillian Kubala, MS, RD

Every fruit lover has their go-to favorites. Bananas, apples, and melons are popular choices worldwide and can be purchased almost anywhere.

Read More Show Less