Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Natural disasters since 1900 ‘have cost $7 trillion’

Natural disasters have caused more than $7 trillion (6.2 trillion euros) in economic damage worldwide since 1900, with floods and storms accounting for nearly 60 percent of the total, researchers said April 18.

The death toll from such natural calamities, which also include earthquakes, volcanoes, droughts, heatwaves and wildfires, topped eight million from 1900 to 2015, according to findings presented at a meeting of the European Geosciences Union in Vienna.

More than a third, 38.5 percent, of the economic damage, and just over half the loss of life was the result of flooding, according to James Daniell, an Australian risk engineer at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany.    

“Flooding is the key driver” for economic loss and death, said Daniell, who has catalogued 35,000 disasters over 115 years, the largest such database in existence.

Since about 1960, storms and storm surges, the exceptional waves they cause, have replaced flooding as the most destructive forces, battering buildings and infrastructure.

Whether this shift was due to climate change was impossible to say, he told AFP...

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