Weather Disasters Caused Nearly 2 Million Deaths, Cost $2.4 Trillion Since 1970
According to the WMO's report, 8,835 climate- and weather-related events took place from 1970 to 2012, ranging from droughts and floods to cyclones and heatwaves. Collectively, they caused 1.94 million deaths, with their aftermaths costing about $2.4 trillion.
The report contains a series of maps that break down deaths and dollars spent on recovery by continent.
"Both industrialized and non-industrialized countries are bearing the burden of repeated floods, droughts, temperature extremes and storms," reads the report's foreword, co-written by WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud and Debarati Guha Sapir, director of the Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) and a professor at the University of Louvain School of Public Health.
"The escalating impact of disasters is due not only to their increasing frequency and severity, but also to the growing vulnerability of human societies, especially those surviving on the margins of development."
In addition to encouraging policies that address climate change, Sapir and Jarraud also hope the report encourages stronger efforts to collect and report extreme weather-related data. The current lack of systematic reporting is why they caution that data could be even worse than their findings.
“Many countries do not systematically record disaster losses and damage, or if they do, there’s not a standardized way of doing it," Jochen Luther, an analyst with WMO’s disaster risk reduction program, told Climate Central.
Floods, droughts, extreme temperatures, storms, wildfires and landslides are the report's primary focus, and each has increased across the globe since 1970. Luther said plenty of factors have figured into the increases. No one prevailing factor explains extreme weather on all continents, but floods seem to be most common, according to the report.
“Everywhere, there is a lot of development going on and population growth going on in hazard-prone areas, especially coastal areas that are very much affected by sea level rise and in addition to that, storm surges, tropical cyclones, extratropical storms,” Luther said.
While Luther lauded meteorological services introduced in the 11 years since heat waves in Europe led to the highest proportion of deaths, he said the WMO hopes to collaborate with national meteorological services around the world to create seamless climate and weather forecasts.
The WMO and its 191 members have developed several projects to collect the data found in the report. They include the WMO Integrated Global Observing and Information systems. The World Meteorological Centers and Regional Specialized Meteorological Centers are among the entities that provide weather and climate analyses, warnings, forecasts and other information services through WMO systems every day.
"The Atlas of Mortality and Economic Losses from Weather, Climate and Water Extremes (1970–2012) is a first step by the new partnership of WMO and CRED to engage their respective national and global networks in improving national disaster loss and damage databases by linking them to the hazard information collected by WMO and its members," according to the report.
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A "trash tsunami" has washed ashore on the beaches of Honduras, endangering both wildlife and the local economy.
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By Harry Kretchmer
By 2030, almost a third of all the energy consumed in the European Union must come from renewable sources, according to binding targets agreed in 2018. Sweden is helping lead the way.
Sweden is a world leader in renewable energy consumption. Swedish Institute/World Bank
Naturally Warm<p>54% of Sweden's power comes from renewables, and is helped by its geography. With plenty of moving water and 63% forest cover, it's no surprise the <a href="https://sweden.se/nature/energy-use-in-sweden/#" target="_blank">two largest renewable power sources</a> are hydropower and biomass. And that biomass is helping support a local energy boom.</p><p>Heating is a key use of energy in a cold country like Sweden. In recent decades, as fuel oil taxes have increased, the country's power companies have turned to renewables, like biomass, to fuel local 'district heating' plants.</p><p>In Sweden these trace their <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank">origins back to 1948</a>, when a power station's excess heat was first used to heat nearby buildings: steam is <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/engineering/district-heating-system" target="_blank">forced along a network of pipes</a> to wherever it's needed. Today, there are around 500 district heating systems across the country, from major cities to small villages, providing heat to homes and businesses.</p><p>District heating used to be fueled mainly from the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140" target="_blank">by-products of power plants</a>, waste-to-energy plants and industrial processes. These days, however, Sweden is bringing more renewable sources into the mix. And as a result of competition, this localized form of power is now the country's<a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> home-heating market leader.</a></p>
Sweden is using smart grids to turn buildings into energy producers. Huang et al/Elsevier
Energy ‘Prosumers’<p>But Sweden doesn't stop at village-level heating solutions. Its new breed of energy-generation takes hyper-local to the next level.</p><p>One example is in the city of Ludivika where 1970s flats <a href="https://www.buildup.eu/sites/default/files/content/transforming-a-residential-building-cluster-into-electricity-prosumers-in-sweden.pdf" target="_blank">have recently been retrofitted with the latest smart energy technology</a>.</p><p>48 family apartments spread across 3 buildings have been given photovoltaic solar panels, thermal energy storage and heat pump systems. A micro energy grid connects it all, and helps charge electric cars overnight.</p><p>The result is a cluster of 'prosumer' buildings, producing rather than consuming enough power for 77% of residents' needs. With <a href="http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:1232060/FULLTEXT01.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">high levels of smart meter usage</a>, it's a model that looks set to spread across Sweden.</p>
<div id="d7bf9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8757b138d5570bec9d6aad18074a429a"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1273556364263071744" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Read more about Western Harbour and book a visit: https://t.co/ujSmVs9rNK 🏡🌳🌊 https://t.co/C5PuPziqIM</div> — Smart City Sweden (@Smart City Sweden)<a href="https://twitter.com/SmartCitySweden/statuses/1273556364263071744">1592474473.0</a></blockquote></div>
Scaling Up<p>A recent development by E.ON in Hyllie, a district on the outskirts of Malmö, southern Sweden, <a href="https://www.eonenergy.com/blog/2019/February/sweden-smart-city" target="_blank">has scaled up the smart grid principle</a>. Energy generation comes from local wind, solar, biomass and waste sources.</p><p>Smart grids then balance the power, react to the weather, deploying extra power when it's colder or putting excess into battery storage when it's warm. The system is not only more efficient, but bills have fallen.</p><p>Smart energy developments like those in Hyllie, Ludivika, and renewable-driven district heating, offer a radical alternative to the centralized energy systems many countries rely on today.</p><p>The EU's leaders have a challenge: how to generate 32% of energy from renewables by 2030. Sweden offers a vision of how technology and local solutions can turn a goal into a reality.</p>
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