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Don’t Believe The Hype: An Early Analysis Of Global Disasters In 2022

climate disaster

In September, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres made the following claims upon the release of a report — titled ironically enough — United in Science:

Floods, droughts, heatwaves, extreme storms and wildfires are going from bad to worse, breaking records with ever alarming frequency. Heatwaves in Europe. Colossal floods in Pakistan. Prolonged and severe droughts in China, the Horn of Africa and the United States.

There is nothing natural about the new scale of these disasters. They are the price of humanity’s fossil fuel addiction. The number of weather, climate and water-related disasters has increased by a factor of five over the past 50 years.

As I and others have documented, Guterres’s claim of a 500% increase in disasters is pure misinformation. You will never find a more obviously egregious, wrong claim in public discussions from a more important institution. [emphasis, links added]

Making matters worse, the false notion of a massive increase in disasters is legitimized by none other than the World Meteorological Organization, one of the founding bodies of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

I’ve spent almost 30 years working to understand trends in disasters, and the roles played by (a) societal vulnerability and exposure and (b) climate variability and change.

Along the way I’ve observed a concerted and successful effort by climate advocates to create and spread disinformation about disasters, knowing full well that virtually all journalists and scientists will stay silent and allow the false information to spread unchecked — and sometimes they will even help to amplify it.

Readers here will well know that the actual science of weather and climate extremes and disasters that may be associated with them is far more nuanced and less apocalyptic than typically found in much of the public discourse.

The scientific reality does not diminish the importance of climate mitigation policy, but it does say something about standards of scientific integrity.

In today’s post, I share some preliminary information related to the global disasters of 2022. The information available today is incomplete — the year isn’t quite over and not all data analyses have been done and those that have are just a first cut.

However, the information that is available today allows us to get a pretty good initial look at the disasters of 2022 from a historical perspective.

To be sure, 2022 saw some notable weather and climate-related disasters, including among them:

  • Flooding in Pakistan, South Africa, Nigeria, India, the United States, and Brazil
  • Drought in Europe, Eastern Africa, and China
  • Hurricane Ian in Florida

Preliminary estimates are that as many as 11,000 people died around the world in weather and climate-related disasters in 2022, which is just about the average of the previous decade, according to data from the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters.

The overall 2022 death rate for weather and climate disasters was about 0.14 people per million, representing one of the 5 lowest annual death rates since data is available (dating to more than a century ago) — and I’d venture in all of recorded human history.

The years with lower death rates are all recent: 2021, 2018, 2017, 2016, and 2014. It was just 30 years ago in 1992 that the global death rate from weather and climate disasters was more than 20x greater, at 2.90 per million.

The diminishing human impact of disasters is a science and policy success story that is widely underappreciated.

Read full post at The Honest Broker

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