Monday, April 20, 2009

Climate change will overload humanitarian system, warns Oxfam

Guardian (UK): Emergency organisations could be overwhelmed within seven years by the rising number of people in poor countries affected by floods, droughts, heatwaves, wild fires, storms, landslides and other climate hazards.

Analysis by Oxfam International of the 6,500 climate-related disasters recorded since 1980 show that the numbers of people affected by extreme weather events, many of which are linked to climate change, has doubled in just 30 years and is expected to increase a further 54% to more than 375 million people a year on average by 2015. The figure does not include people hit by other disasters such as wars, earthquakes and volcanoes. Worldwide emergency aid spending will have to be nearly doubled to at least $25bn (£17.2bn) a year to cope, says the report, The Right To Survive.

"Climate change is set to overload the humanitarian system and destroy the lives and livelihoods of people today and into the future. The system can barely cope with the current level of disasters and could be overwhelmed," said Oxfam's chief executive, Barbara Stocking.

Since the 1980s, the average number of people affected by climate-related disasters has risen from 121 million to 243 million a year. Reported major floods have quadrupled, peaking in 2007/8 when 23 African and 11 Asian countries experienced their worst in memory, heavy rains hit much of Central America, hurricanes created havoc in the Caribbean and cyclones devastated large swaths of Burma and Bangladesh….

Wreckage in Galveston, Texas, after the flood and hurricane of September, 1900

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