UN warns of 'megadisasters' linked to climate change

UN humanitarian chief John Holmes
UN humanitarian chief John Holmes speaks during a press conference in Khartoum in May 2009. Some of the world's biggest cities are at growing risk of "megadisasters", the UN's humanitarian chief said Tuesday, warning that climate change was behind a rising number of natural catastrophes.

The United Nations on Tuesday raised the prospect of "megadisasters" affecting millions of people in some of the world's biggest cities unless more is done to heed the threat of climate change.

"We are going to see more disasters and more intense disasters as a result of climate change," UN Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes said at the opening of a four-day conference on reducing disaster risks.

The Red Cross joined the UN in urging more investment to ensure that cities, villages and small communities were better prepared for natural disasters that are being amplified by global warming.

Natural and man-made disasters killed nearly a quarter of a million people in 2008 and warnings about looming disasters, particularly climate change, are not being heeded, the Red Cross said.

At 242,662 people worldwide, this was the second biggest annual toll of the past decade, according to a report by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

Nine in 10 of those disasters were weather-related and they caused up to 200 billion dollars (145 billion euros) worth of damage, Holmes said, calling it an "enormous concern".

"The effects of climate change are being felt now, they're not simply some future threat."

Holmes said some of the world's biggest cities, housing more than 10 million people each, were highly exposed, since they were located in coastal areas that would be threatened by rising sea levels or in earthquake zones.

"The risks of megadisasters in some of these megacities are rising all the time," the UN relief chief warned, predicting a soaring death toll from future natural catastrophes.

The Red Cross cautioned that only piecemeal progress had been made on prevention and measures to make communities more resilient to floods, drought, storms and earthquakes, despite the warnings about more extreme weather events.

The federation's annual "World Disasters Report" published Tuesday highlighted climate change as "offering us the ultimate early warning."

"The rising dangers of require a response from governments equivalent to the one made to address the global financial crisis," said Bekele Geleta, Secretary General of the federation.

But he warned in the report that there was "much resistance to change", with the focus still on emergency aid after the event rather than preparing for the worst.

"This seems to be a lesson that individuals, donors, countries and some of the 'humanitarian community' have yet to learn," Geleta said.

The measures advocated at the conference include adequate community flood or weather alerts, shelters, better building standards to resist bad weather or quakes, and avoiding settlements in high risk areas.

Holmes estimated that about three billion dollars a year could be mobilised by setting aside one percent of development assistance and 10 percent of global humanitarian aid for precautionary projects.

The 585 natural or man-made catastrophes that occurred in 2008 represented the lowest annual total the past decade.

The overwhelming majority of the deaths occurred in the Sichuan earthquake in China where more than 87,000 people died, and cyclone Nargis, which claimed more than 138,000 lives when it swept through coastal areas of Myanmar.

The Red Cross report likened forecasting the impact of global warming to rolling a dice: "We never know when a particular number will appear, but at some point every number comes up."

"Confronted with global warming and growing vulnerability, we also know the dice is loaded."

(c) 2009 AFP

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Jun 17, 2009
Wait for it.........

Jun 17, 2009

disaster looms ahead anyway. What poppycock!

The prediction of Al Gore and the UN's IPCC was wrong, so they change the name of the predicted disaster from "Global Warming" to 'Climate Change."

Is this the same guy that was trying to sell used cars driven only by retired school teachers?

How sad that the Nobel Committee joined forces with this bunch!

With kind regards,
Oliver K. Manuel

Jun 17, 2009
Good work, omatumr. You'll be getting a gas coupon in the mail as a reward for spreading big oil's gospel of lies, distortions, and obfuscation.

Jun 17, 2009
And if the numbers of victims of natural disasters doubled it would still be less than the numbers killed in road accidents worldwide. And don't even think about the effects of tobacco.

Jun 17, 2009
Cyclone Nargis was a 500 year storm. Even the historical meteorolists said that it has happened before. why the alarmists make such a big deal about it is beyond me.

The reason the death tolls keep going up from cyclones is because more and more idiots keep building houses right up to the coast, especially in 3rd world countries where they still make houses out of nothing more than palm branches.

Articles like this irk me. We've got a 6000 degree ball of molten metal with a diameter of about 8000 miles beneath our feet, and these idiots blame an earthquake on a few factories and automobiles.

Jun 17, 2009
Good work, omatumr. You'll be getting a gas coupon in the mail as a reward for spreading big oil's gospel of lies, distortions, and obfuscation.

"Big Oil" is in bed with the IPCC and so-called "green" laws. Why else would Enron (remember them?) and British Petroleum try to convince Bush to support carbon credits, wind farms, etc.?

Jun 17, 2009
The reason the death tolls keep going up from cyclones is because more and more idiots keep building houses right up to the coast, especially in 3rd world countries where they still make houses out of nothing more than palm branches.

Even in the US the insurance companies are starting to refuse to insure homes in hurricane prone areas. Something they should have done a long time ago (it would have discouraged growth in to areas prone to flooding.

Articles like this irk me. We've got a 6000 degree ball of molten metal with a diameter of about 8000 miles beneath our feet, and these idiots blame an earthquake on a few factories and automobiles.

And we all respect the scientific credentials of the "UN humanitarian chief". Or is it just that the UN is propagandizing in lock-step?

Jun 22, 2009
It won't be long before we look back to now as "the good ole days" If you think it's bad now, wait a few years. You ain't seen nothing yet.

Jun 22, 2009
UN wants more control over humanity. Will say anything to get it.

Jun 22, 2009
UN wants more control over humanity. Will say anything to get it.

You can't fake global warming. The greenhouse effect was first concidered way back in the 1820s. This has to be the absolute worst example of "putting things off till the last minute" Amazing that hurricanes Ike, Katrina, the cyclones of the Far East in recent years, the tropical type flooding in Boston, New York and New Jersey, the Australian droughts, the declining mountian glaciers around the globe and the world surface temperature heat splat that started in the late 90s (and is still here today) has not been concidered as a "wake up call!"

Jun 23, 2009
What flooding in Boston? Lived and worked here my entire life, there's been no flooding other than the winter of 06 when we had so much snow we couldn't get rid of it fast enough and the environazi's wouldn't let us push it into the harbor due to "street debris".

Ok just ouside Boston.

Then the Jersey flood a few weeks later.

Then again the next year.

Then more flooding in Mass. last week.

FYI: Global warming would reduce cyclone activity, not increase it.

Oh great! Severe flooding followed by severe drought. Let the good times roll! *rolls eyes*

Jun 23, 2009
FYI: Global warming would reduce cyclone activity, not increase it.

Velanarris, again you're talking out of your keester. First of all there's many types of cyclones. Second, just about all of them would be made more likely to develop and more severe, due to the increased energy and moisture in the system that increased equatorial and global temperatures would cause. Not to mention a feedback that could be caused by cyclones putting more moisture in the atmosphere.

Jun 25, 2009
Cyclones are all formed by disparaity in the thermal equilibrium of either water, or the atmosphere.

Global warming would make more of the planet the same temperature as the tropics.

Your second sentence there, the one which apparently your entire argument here is based on, is unfortunately incorrect and I'm pretty sure you're smart enough to know it (basic meteorological principles). Unfortunate your hubris won't allow you to admit you're wrong or at least that you didn't actually have any clue what you were talking about.

Yes, extratropical cyclones form along weather fronts. Which are two masses of air, as you said, with a temperature/density/moisture disparity. Fronts are not diminished in any way because of global warming, in fact said warming only polarizes the temperature/moisture differences (energy potentials) further, as the cold air masses are not warmed more than the already warm air is warmed. Infact, the warm air is warmed substantially and significantly more than the higher latitude cold air is warmed. Additionally, warmer air holds more moisture, moisture holds energy which drives cyclones when the air masses meet.

Tropical cyclones require warm sea surface temperatures, atmospheric instability and humidity. Surface temps would be increased by warmer air, this correlation alone would increase a cyclones chance of forming. If evaporation is increased as well, as is logical, this will allow for at least proportionate humidity if not increased. The atmospheric instability is caused by the Coriolis effect and some other already existant weather disturbance (low level front, wind shear, etc.). At worst these disturbances are independent of uniform warming, at best they are increased by localized warming.

Global warming would do absolutely nothing to decrease the chances of any of the basic physical properties/phenomenon that give rise to cyclones, you are simply flat wrong.

Jun 25, 2009

Merrimack Valley does not flood to that extreme every year. The one in 2006 was the worst flooding in 70 years. And the NY NJ floods are not normal either. As the NE becomes more tropical your going to notice a LOT a major changes up there.

Jun 25, 2009
As described and experimentally evidenced in multiple cases, in heterogeneous systems, warming will occur in the coldest and driest places first, until the system reaches a state of relative equilibrium at which point in time the temperature of the entire system will rise.

This is really quite rich Velanarris, because I would wager that you've said yourself how invalid models and experiments are at replicating global climate systems and here you are trying to salvage your "cred" with them.

Unfortunately, your models are not what is observed or occurs in reality, what with ocean and wind currents, albedo, solar energy atmospheric absorption, geothermal radiation, etc. Your classification of the earth, and everything in it and on it, and atmosphere as a single heterogeneous system is quite puzzling really. It's many systems with many different kinds of thermodynamic and chemical reactions influencing them all in different ways, and them in turn each other. Care to try again?

Jun 26, 2009
The 300,000 per year is a first time, new study (I knew you didn't read it) And I see you really do not know the difference between climate and weather. Even as the world surface temperatures continue to rise, It will still get cold during the winter in New England. It's not the utility bill savior you seem to think it is. Your biggest concern will be massive flooding and tropical disease. (well until the west dries up and they all head east)

Jun 26, 2009
You're still using the "classic" heterogeneous system as a model, and that's a gross oversimplification.

Jun 27, 2009
Complexity and scope are independent of this finding.

You're simply wrong. Show us one experiment or example where the entire physicality of our planet (inner earth, earth's crust, and the many layers of atmosphere) which makes up the system responsible for the temperature distribution of the earth is described as a heterogeneous system. Be specific.

Jun 27, 2009
We're talking about multiple systems with too widely varying intensive parameters.

Jun 28, 2009
And the climate HAS changed. And it's only the beginning.

I was looking at the temps for this year and it's obvious 2009 will also be in the top 10 of the warmest years in recorded history. So to any sceptic out there: Your story will not hold water until there is at least one (1) year in the 21th century that is below or at least at the 20th century mean. Not even remotly close so far.

Jun 28, 2009
This can also be evidenced by our proxies back to the Cretaceous period, the main difference in climate for that time period was a greater band of tropical flora and fauna in addition to less seasonal variability across the globe.

This larger band of tropical clime is not the same as your "warming first in the coldest and driest", indeed it is exactly what I stated, equitorial warming. If you look in another topic I've posted in http://www.physor...705.html this band is exactly what I'm talking about.

The point is, if it was as simple as you say, then the world would all be one temperature already (don't you think a few hundred-million years is enough to achieve equilibrium?). There are other mechanisms and thermodynamic interactions that are preventing it from manifesting as you say it will, like air and ocean currents and the atmosphere.

Another point is that a wider tropical band, which it sounds like this is something we both agree on, will not decrease the likely hood or severity of cyclones, it just makes a larger breeding ground for them.

Jul 02, 2009
To exemplify: Let's say Brazil warms by 0.2 degrees. Antartica would warm by a multiple of that creating a smaller disparity, not a greater one.

The effect is not that broad, Vel, and you know it. Wind and ocean currents, atmospheric density, albedo, all these things, and more, affect the reality of warming in any given locale/microclimate and it's simply not as simple as you say and never will be. To reiterate, if it was as you say, don't you think the last few hundreds of millions of years of geological and global "modernity" would be enough time for the system to reach thermal equilibrium. There's other physical and thermodynamic mechanisms preventing things from happening exactly (as broadly) as you say. It's never going to destroy microclimates, there will always be weather.

...it would not increase cyclonic activity, it would migrate where cyclonic activity forms in a poleward manner. Storms would begin formation at a parallel further from the equator...

Hate to break it to you, but cyclonic activity occurs at all latitudes already, even polar, it's a pesky characteristic of microclimates. It would certainly push the ability of tropical-type cyclones to form into higher latitudes, but it would not simply migrate them all. Can you truly not see the truth of the one applicable simple principle here? That the more energy there is in a system, the more frequent and intense it's interactions will be?

I'm done with this one. I see that, your pomposity will never allow you to admit any level of concession after you've already stated your belief, even when you're unable to present a convincing argument against the contrary.

Jul 03, 2009

How can you be so clueless to cite US temperatures what we are talking about "global" warming? Sure the US has been cooler than the rest of the world but yet the US is still feeling the effects of climate change. Did you see the bees attack that San Diego Padres game? Just wait until those crop eating insects get here.

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