4: Causes – why have the disasters increased?
The reasons why the number of natural disasters has quadrupled since approx. 1970 is many and complex, and the weight of the individual causal factors will vary from region to region.
- Population growth: The world’s population has almost tripled since 1950; it has increased from about 2.5 billion to close to 7 billion people in 2010 and is expected to increase to 8 billion by 2025. Many more inhabitants are affected in vulnerable countries, such as Haiti, now than 40-50 years ago.
- More – especially poor – people are being forced to settle in vulnerable areas. In other words, an already exposed position is aggravated. More than half of humanity now lives in metropolitan areas that are often exposed to extreme air pollution, are prone to earthquakes and vulnerable to floods and droughts – the most recent migrants often have to settle in particularly vulnerable areas.
- Environmental damage- forests, lakes and wetlands disappear. Nature is therefore no longer able, to the same degree as before, to protect us from the ravages of nature.
- Better registration. Like so much else, natural disasters are also better and more systematically registered and mapped than before around the world.
- Extreme weather occurs more frequently than just a generation ago. Around 1970, extreme weather caused about 50 disasters a year – now climate-related disasters have passed 300 per year. Significantly, the number of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions has increased much less than the “climate catastrophes”.
- Major regional shortcomings with regard to the amount of meteorological data collected and forecast of impending storms. The vast majority of meteorological data is collected and disseminated to most people in the north. Better weather data in the south could have alerted the people there earlier, and life and property could have been saved. It is predominantly in poor countries that more and more people are having their lives ruined by extreme droughts, hurricanes, landslides and floods. But even in Europe, warning and preparedness are too poor. The extreme heat wave in southern Europe in 2003 took over 30,000 lives – not least in the highly developed France. There, health services and elderly care were not properly informed that sick people risked being left for weeks in rooms with over 40 degree heat.
5: Measures against natural disasters
It can be both natural climate variations and long-term climate change that have led to catastrophic growth in recent decades. But the UN’s major scientific climate panel, the IPCC, has concluded that it is very likely (more than 95 percent) that long-term climate change will lead to even more extreme weather. Thus, the risk of food shortages, the spread of malaria and the lack of drinking water will also increase on all continents, and especially in Africa and parts of Asia.
In the big picture, we can distinguish between two main strategies when it comes to protecting against climate-related natural disasters:
- Adaptation strategy: Mankind can do more to adapt to climate change and natural disasters, which we know are likely to come – regardless of the measures we take today to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (effects lag). Among other things, we can build better “defenses” – more robust buildings and infrastructure, warn better and organize better preparedness.
- Change strategy: Do something about our lifestyle and nature management – we must, among other things, reduce greenhouse gas emissions by changing energy consumption and production and consumption patterns. In short, we must produce and live more sustainably.
One form of adaptation is better research on and collection of weather and climate data both globally and regionally. This data can be used to alert people as early as possible about climate change and change so that they can prepare and possibly get away. The better and more complete the data and the alert are, the better prepared the population will be and the less the loss of life and property will be. This is where the global climate information system, adopted at the World’s Third Climate Conference in 2009 , comes into play.
In the delta country of Bangladesh with its frequent floods, authorities and people have adapted to the floods by building many concrete shelters on high piles. Here, people seek refuge after being warned of the coming extreme weather. If the most vulnerable countries have access to the same knowledge, long-term warnings and contingency plans that more and more robust societies have, the number of victims of natural disasters will decrease dramatically. If we fail to share information, science, warning and emergency preparedness with those who need it most, the number of natural disasters will soon be able to
reach an eerie and unmanageable extent in several continents.
According to THEMOTORCYCLERS.COM, many shepherds in the Horn of Africa do not receive warning and help until an expected drought sets in. They are thus not allowed to sell and slaughter the cattle until it is starving to death and the famine threatens. When the rain comes back, whole people are standing on bare ground and without funds to buy new livestock. Early warning and early help are therefore invaluable. In the case of “slow disasters” (such as droughts and floods), there will be a lot to gain from such adaptation activities.
Construction of earthquake- and hurricane-proof houses, schools, hospitals and bridges also saves lives and livelihoods. As full experience has shown: The effects of the disasters are far worse in Haiti and Pakistan than they are in Japan, Chile or Cuba. Through information campaigns, educational measures and good building regulations, poor countries such as Cuba and Jamaica have also managed to reduce the damage when they are hit by regular hurricanes. More conscious contingency organization and planning are other forms of adaptation. Once the catastrophe has occurred, it is far too late to establish an apparatus that will provide effective relief work.
7: “Change – Climate Justice”
We have discussed above how humans must manage nature in a way that reduces the number of natural disasters and makes them less destructive.
In international negotiations , there is now a tug-of-war between industrialized countries and those who are becoming major economic and industrial powers, such as China and India. Who should bear which burdens and reduce or limit which emissions so that the world as a whole can have a sustainable development? The questions are among the most pressing that the global community faces.
The concept of ” climate justice ” has been introduced. The global north, the “old” industrialized countries “, have long contributed most to littering the atmosphere, creating global warming and thus more natural disasters. At the same time, these countries are likely to be affected last and least. Today, the poor in developing countries bear almost the entire burden of the industrialized countries’ man-made climate change: More than 90 per cent of those who lose their lives, homes or livelihoods due to natural disasters live in developing countries.
The 50 least developed countries in the world emit one percent of the world’s greenhouse gases. The United States alone emits 20 times more. The 20 least vulnerable countries in the time of climate change emit almost 40 percent of the world’s carbon gases, while the 20 most vulnerable countries account for less than 0.7 percent of the world’s CO2 emissions. Of course, this situation can not persist. But how will the world achieve change as a monk and at the same time achieve development for those who need it most?
It is not enough to fight for smaller greenhouse gas emissions that will be able to stabilize climate change in the long term. The world’s vulnerable people must be helped to survive now . Science and technology have given us tools that must not remain in the hands of the rich, but be shared with all peoples.