Confronting worldwide disaster losses

Nov 05, 2007

In the current edition of leading journal Science, an international team of experts argues that governments and policymakers worldwide need to take swift action now to minimise mounting losses due to future natural disasters - regardless of the effect of climate change on our global weather patterns.

Australian Ryan Crompton of Risk Frontiers, a natural hazards research centre at Macquarie University, worked with colleagues from the Netherlands, Germany and the US on the paper, which offers three recommendations to decision makers: improve disaster data collection; expand the role of disaster risk reduction in adaptation; and develop and apply innovative finance mechanisms to protect against losses.

"According to data collected by Munich Re, global inflation adjusted economic costs of weather-related disasters have increased from an annual average of US$8.9 billion between 1977 and 1986, to US$45.1 billion between 1997 and 2006," Crompton says. "Even if extreme weather doesn't increase - and the IPCC says it likely will - in coming decades we will see losses skyrocketing due to societal change and economic development.

"As an example, if the July 2005 floods in Mumbai were repeated in 2015, they could cause 80 per cent higher losses and affect 20 per cent more people, independent of climate change."

The research team argues that although greenhouse gas emission reductions are of central importance, they cannot decrease hazard risk for decades, and so must be complemented by other policy changes if staggering losses are to be avoided.

"One of the pressing needs is for better data collection," Crompton says. "An open-source, peer-reviewed database would enable the scientific community to study worldwide disasters - and potentially even offer the prospect of an early-warning system for changes in the earth-climate system.

"The role of disaster risk reduction could also be expanded, particularly in the developing world," he says. "Finally, some innovative insurance products have been developed and expanded recently, such as catastrophe bonds which cover flood risk in the UK, and there is a real need for more of this as risk becomes increasingly more concentrated."

Source: Macquarie University

Explore further: James Watson's Nobel Prize to be auctioned

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Green Climate Fund pledges reach $9.3 bn

Nov 20, 2014

Nations meeting in Berlin Thursday pledged $9.3 billion (7.4 bn euros) for a climate fund to help poor countries cut emissions and prepare for global warming, just shy of a $10bn target.

The midge that eats more kale

Nov 13, 2014

Three years ago, Tony Lehouillier began to worry about some of his purple kale. "It was just weird looking," he says, cupping his hands around a tall stalk on his farm near Johnson, Vt. "Then the top would ...

Time running out to reach 2 C warming target: UN experts

Nov 02, 2014

Time is running out to limit global warming to two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), the United Nations' climate experts said Sunday, warning that current trends in carbon emissions will lead to disaster.

UN biodiversity meet commits to double funding

Oct 17, 2014

A UN conference on preserving the earth's dwindling resources wrapped up Friday with governments making a firm commitment to double biodiversity aid to developing countries by 2015.

Recommended for you

James Watson's Nobel Prize to be auctioned

5 hours ago

Missed the chance to bid on Francis Crick's Nobel Prize when it was auctioned off last year for $2.27 million? No worries, you'll have another chance to own a piece of science history on Dec. 4, when James D. Watson's 1962 ...

Engineers develop gift guide for parents

Nov 21, 2014

Faculty and staff in Purdue University's College of Engineering have come up with a holiday gift guide that can help engage children in engineering concepts.

Former Brown dean whose group won Nobel Prize dies

Nov 20, 2014

David Greer, a doctor who co-founded a group that won the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize for working to prevent nuclear war and who helped transform the medical school at Brown University, has died. He was 89.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

DoctorKnowledge
not rated yet Jul 02, 2008
One can see either side of this argument easily enough. And that's not comforting.

If, for example (I said if), it is a choice between widespread food riots in major cities, and destroying an additional 100 sq miles of the Amazon each year, what would the right choice be?

These people are arguing that the consequences are so severe to our society that we have to intentionally damage the ecology, to some extent. A very unpleasant concept. But one that seems plausible.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.