Thursday, June 26, 2008

Disasters rising, but don't just blame climate change

Ruth Gidley at Reuters: Natural catastrophes are on the rise, a new report by disaster experts confirms, with the number of recorded floods, storms and other weather emergencies increasing by 7.4 percent a year on average. But 2007 bucked the general trend, seeing a slight fall in disasters and the lowest death toll in a decade.

Many scientists predict climate change will trigger more floods and droughts, but the report's researchers say global warming is only partly to blame for the general rise. "Climate change is probably an actor in this increase but not the major one," the report from the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) School of Public Health in Belgium says.

The fact that information about natural disasters is more accurate than it used to be is another reason behind the rise, according to the researchers who are based at the Catholic University of Louvain. Last year the number of natural disasters dropped to 405 from 423 in 2006. The death toll was around 17,000 and 211 million people were affected. The lower numbers were partly because there were fewer earthquakes and volcano eruptions than usual…..

The eyewall of Hurricane Katrina, NOAA, Wikimedia Commons

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