Climate Change

U.N. Reports 'Staggering Rise in Climate-Related Disasters'

And yet, fewer lives are being lost with no increase in proportional economic losses.


"We are turning our only home into an uninhabitable hell for millions of people," assert the authors of "Human Cost of Disasters 2000-2019," a new report issued on behalf of the United Nations (U.N.) Office of Disaster Risk Reduction. "This report focuses primarily on the staggering rise in climate-related disasters over the last twenty years," the authors add. The report is based on data collected in the Emergency Events Database (EM-DAT) curated by the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters located at the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium.

The U.N. and Louvain researchers tally the toll of death and destruction from all natural disasters over the past 20 years. Between 2000 to 2019, there were 7,348 major recorded natural disaster events killing 1.23 million people with economic losses amounting to approximately $2.97 trillion. In contrast, between 1980 and 1999 there were only 4,212 natural disasters that killed 1.19 million people and resulted in $1.63 trillion in losses.

The report observes that floods and storms were by far the most prevalent events. "The last 20 years has seen the number of major floods more than double, from 1,389 to 3,254, while the incidence of storms grew from 1,457 to 2,034," notes the accompanying press release. "This is clear evidence that in a world where the global average temperature in 2019 was 1.1 ̊C above the pre-industrial period, the impacts are being felt in the increased frequency of extreme weather events including heatwaves, droughts, flooding, winter storms, hurricanes, and wildfires," declares the report. It is worth noting that 58 percent of disaster deaths between 2000 and 2019 were the result of earthquakes.

Let's take a look at the evidence for how rising average global temperature specifically is affecting humanity. First, the report observes that between 2000 and 2019, there were 510,837 deaths associated with 6,681 climate-related disasters. However, the researchers note 3,656 climate-related disasters recorded between 1980 and 1999 resulted in 995,330 deaths. In other words, according to EM-DAT data, climate-related deaths in the two periods fell by nearly half while such disasters nearly doubled.

What about the upward trend in economic losses from natural disasters? According to the Human Cost report, such cumulated losses increased by 82 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars between the two 20-year periods. Interestingly, gross world product roughly grew by 82 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars between 1999 and 2019.

To get a better handle on the question of whether climate change is adding to the destruction wreaked by natural disasters, researchers seek to "normalize" the losses by attempting to estimate direct economic costs from a historical storm as if that same event were to occur under contemporary social conditions. For example, far more people live in Florida now than 50 years ago, with lots more houses and businesses, so hurricanes that strike there today are more likely to cause more significant economic losses than those than hit that state in the 1920s.

In a July 2020 article in Environmental Hazards reviewing the findings of 54 different disaster loss normalization studies, University of Colorado researcher Roger Pielke, Jr. reports, "A very strong, bottom-line conclusion across the normalisation literature is that evidence of a signal of human-caused climate change in the form of increased global economic losses from more frequent or more intense weather extremes has not yet been detected. This does not mean that such a signal does not exist, but rather, it may be too small to yet detect."

Pielke adds, "Regrettably, scientific and public discussion of normalisation research and associated extreme weather has become deeply politicised, with opponents to climate action sometimes misusing normalisation research results to suggest human-caused climate change is not occurring. Similarly, some advocates for climate action see the results of normalisation research as a threat to an agenda that emphasizes the influence of accumulating greenhouse gases on every extreme event, with claims often going well beyond what science presently supports."

The upshot is that humanity is losing more houses and infrastructure to bad weather largely because a richer and more populous world has put much more property in harm's way. Once you adjust for that, the proportion of assets damaged by storms and floods possibly amplified by climate change is not yet appreciably increasing. Even better news is that as a result of rising wealth and improving technologies, fewer people over the past decades are dying from weather disasters. Pielke is right when he concludes, "Overall, improved adaptive capacity and declining vulnerability suggest optimism for our collective ability to respond to a changing and uncertain climate future."

Perhaps the world will not become an uninhabitable hell after all.

NEXT: Judging From His Grilling of Amy Coney Barrett, Sen. Richard Durbin Thinks Voting Is More Important Than Staying Alive

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  1. "Perhaps the world will not become an uninhabitable hell after all."

    In the words of Jean-Paul Sartre, "hell is other people." I lose no sleep over the weather.

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    2. Hell is a place where all major media climate news is amplifed through a Green PR echo chamber jointly run by The Nation Institute and The Columbia School of Journalism. It was launched last year with a million dollar grant orchestrated by Bill Moyers and boasts over 200 subscribers, including UN Must Reads like The New York Times and The Guardian, and the news sections of Science and Nature.

      It's a sophisticated counterpropaganda pushback to the down market climate denial peddled by Fox and Breitbart.

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  3. The report is a total lie. Tying the 'disasters' to 'climate change' has zero specific evidence.

    1. One of the tactics they used in the 90s was to determine extreme weather events by dollars cost to fix damage, non adjusted for inflation. Well you can figure out why.

      1. When I was a kid, I was thoroughly convinced that the hole in ozone layer would fry me like an ant every time I stepped outside to play baseball with my friends.

        Then, one day, the hole just closed, as did the door on my naivety.

        1. I remember when I was a kid, I got some stern scoldings to similarly scold my mom to use plastic instead of paper bags at the grocery store because paper bags would kill all the trees. Funny how these things change.

          1. Yeah, same here.

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        2. I suspect that fixing the hole in the ozone layer is why temperatures have gone up.

        3. No, the hole did not close. It has just begun to close during the last decade. It will not close until well into the second half of the Century, assuming they catch whoever has recently stared emitting CFCs anew in Southeast Asia.

          It is a common trope of denialists to pretend that earlier disasters like ozone depletion and acid rain just went away. It's horseshit. They didn't go away, but they WERE brought under control by proper regulation and international cooperation. It will be a long, long time before the ozone hole heals or the damage to river systems from acid rain goes away.

      2. They also reported on total damages, ignoring the fact that people have been building million dollar homes on sand bars ever since the federal government started subsidizing the insurance.

  4. We all know the left wants power and control and they don't plan to give it up. They will use any excuse as long as it benefits them to your detriment. Any disaster is a wedge to get more power for them. Sadly they have too many bootlickers in the media and on the internet that they may overwhelm any rational response.

    1. The climate change mania isn't just a power grab, it's a thirst for meaning. With no other religion to cling to, leftists want their lives to mean something, and saving the planet from an extinction level threat (even an imaginary one) gives them something to exist for. Even if they simultaneously view humanity as a virus on Gaia and believe it should be reduced by 90 percent or so.

      1. Thank you for this comment. This right here is the main reason for the belief system in climate change. This really isn't a coordinated conspiracy, though there are those who wish to use climate change to eliminate capitalism and impose socialism. Yet, the general populaces adherence to all things extreme with climate change is simply the need of many for a religion.

        The more and more secular our society becomes, the more and more people look to other things to fill the hole left by having no religion. Religion was a way to feel important, to feel like your life mattered, it gave you purpose and responsibly. People are now turning to things like politics and climate change to replace what religion provided.

        It's funny, I've never been religious. Growing up I actually rebelled fairly heavily against religion. But not that I'm seeing what non-religious people do by turning humanism stuff like politics, science, and climate change into religions, I'm not sure what concerns me more. However, it's starting to look like the humanism side is a bit more concerning, at least at this moment in time.

      2. Sad but true. As an atheist libertarian, its easy for me to recognize that far left wingers have been increasingly acting like fundamentalist religious crusaders who want government to enact/enforce their theology in order to control everybody else's thoughts and actions.

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      3. May I also just say that you've hit it on the nose.

      4. Get over to "Nature" magazine, fruitcakes.

  5. More UN bullshit.
    Nothing to see here, move along.

  6. Most climate deaths are from people who keep living in flood plains, tornado zones and fire zones, thats not the climates fault and the populations keep going up not down so yea there will always be increases in lives and money since there is never a 100% safety

    1. We're not going to be run off our land by a tornado/flood/earthquake/fire. We're going to rebuild bigger than before.

      1. ... as long as there is somebody else to pay for it.

  7. Political climate related disasters?

    1. you mean like Portland and Minneapolis?

    2. Mostly peaceful warming of businesses, police stations, and courthouses.

    3. Don't forget the forbidden-to-mention anti-fascist-ignited wildfires.

  8. I'd like to see similar datasets for the previous dozen 20-year periods.

    I'd like to see the same data divided into different 20-year chunks, such as 1990-2009.

    I'd like to see different sized chunks, say every decade instead of 20 years.

    20 years is a peculiar chunk size. Unnatural. If you'd asked most people, single years or decades would be more natural.

    Two datasets is peculiar. Doesn't establish much of a trend or chart.

    Something fishy with the whole thing. I wouldn't trust it as far as I could throw the U.N. building.

    1. Mr. Bailey also doesn’t point out the ipcc standard is 30 year chunks if you are going to do any climate study. I notice that if a media source wants to drive the climate hysteria they usually find studies even the ipcc would reject. The nasa heat map was also terrible, only a 5 year period. That one was all over the news. Just one of the many reasons climate science is broken.

      1. There is no such thing as climate science. Only politics and religion. To be a climate scientist you must believe it's the end of the world. Otherwise you're not a "real" climate scientist. You're a nasty denier who believes in anti-science dogma. Talk about irony.

      2. I would use a 40 year chunk. Just from anecdotal evidence/memory, it was hot and dry with lots of bad storms in the 1930s, the 1970s, and the 2010s.

        And if the sun spot cycle is 11 years, maybe 44 year chunks would be more meaningful.

    2. In defense of 20 years, it's a rough approximation of two solar cycles. Big enough to maybe average out some random variation but small enough to maybe show a trend (recognizing that our reliable data really doesn't go back all that far).

      But, yeah, a proper data analysis would consider chunking the data differently as part of good hypothesis testing. However given that they didn't even try to normalize for inflation or population growth, it seems silly to expect them to take on advanced statistical techniques.

      1. that's okay, the old data can be normalized to fit the theory, with a few assumptions about how it must have been incorrectly measured

  9. Funny that every one of these problems including climate change, overpopulation, plastic, inequality, hunger, and COVID all have the same solution: more government control over every aspect of our lives.

    1. You’re not supposed to say that part out loud!

  10. Check out Alex Epstein his latest podcast episode was supposed to be a debate with the infamous Michael Mann. They didn’t want to “legitimize” the anti-catastrophe side so Mann refused to debate. This narrative is unbelievable, soon they’ll get people to think the Earth is flat lol.

  11. Omitted in the UN's pathetic parody of analysis are the facts that:
    1) the definition of a recordable "natural disaster event" changed between 1980 and 2019. Weather radars, for example, now allow us to detect and record storms that used to be missed because they occurred in generally unmonitored areas.
    2) the deaths as a fraction of total population are down
    3) the deaths per "natural disaster event" are down sharply
    4) the financial losses are primarily the result of people choosing to build more and bigger buildings in flood plains and other areas known to be disaster-prone.

    The last factor is the most egregious because it is a self-inflicted wound caused primarily by government programs that break the incentive for rational risk-taking. Why shouldn't I build on a flood plain if the government is going to subsidize my insurance and pay me to rebuild in the same place?

    The truth is that none of those disasters are climate-related. They are weather-related. Advocates are plenty ready to call out the difference whenever a "denier" talks about cold-related deaths. Sad that they can't see their own hypocrisy here.

    1. "Weather radars, for example, now allow us to detect and record storms that used to be missed because they occurred in generally unmonitored areas."

      This is a reason for the increase in named storms over the last few years. Satellites and remote sensing have gotten sophisticated enough that if there's a cyclone that meets the criteria for a TD, TS, or Hurricane, it'll be found and measured. Even if it was only a tropical storm for two hours before weakening, and it never got closer than 600 nm to land.

      1. Yeah, the metric is no longer hurricanes, it's 'named storms'. If it's got a name, why it's obvious it's a danger to humanity, right?

  12. U.N. Falsely Reports 'Staggering Rise in Climate-Related Disasters'


  13. The climate hasn't even changed yet. The correct analysis is that these weather-related disasters could become more frequent and more dangerous after the climate changes, down the road some time. They've been talking about a huge increase in hurricanes every year since 2005, but only 2 or 3 years have been worse than normal. And the climate has been very stable during that time.

    1. If you actually think about it you'll realize that in almost any twenty year period in history there have been 2 or 3 years that are "worse than normal."

      It's interesting how eagerly local governments and private developers have been to get "climate change" bailouts for all the infrastructure, housing and commercial properties that they have built with inadequate drainage or flood or erosion protection.

    2. At the same time, Sweden and Scotland now have very healthy wine industries, whereas Switzerland has lost 40 days off its skiing season since the 1970s. So you might avoid telling them that "climate hasn't changed yet". They'll probably laugh at you and call you a lefty prat or something.

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  15. So did this report suggest any remedies for this approaching Armageddon? Did the remedy involve Western countries shoveling tons of money at third-world countries by way of the UN by any chance?

    1. Try eating less meat and driving less, to start with. Those are usually top of the list.

  16. Climate change is real? This is my shocked face :O

  17. Why not just trigger a global nuclear winter to put an end to these disasters?

    Hard to have floods and storms if the only climate is fully cloudy, with freezing cold temperatures.

    1. There is very likely, no such thing as a nuclear winter that was possible from even a major (>5000 Mt) strategic nuclear exchange. The TTAPS Report was either well-meaning but misguided, or yet another propaganda attempt by the Soviets to get the West to unilaterally disarm. Basically, there isn't enough energy---as ridiculous as that may sound when talking about hydrogen bombs---to burn enough area, and the soot from even large urban firestorms, doesn't get high enough. Contrast with the temperature lowering aerosols released by VEI 6 and above events. Or the matter deposited in the upper atmosphere by large astrobolide impacts.

      We'll get some experimental verification of nuclear winter from these large scale fires throughout the American West. Just like we ran a CO2 output restriction experiment for the first few months of this year, and surprise! global CO2 levels still rose.

      A giant problem with proving climate theories like nuclear winter---and there's been a movement in the last ten years to make the nuclear winter theory respectable again---or disproving it, is a lot of the guys you'd like to help with solving that question are climatologists. Feel sanguine about their political impartiality? Me neither.

      1. Given the data from the Dresden firebombing and from the measured weather/climate effects of various volcanoes, I have to disagree with your claims. Remember that we don't have to burn the area, we just have to loft enough particulates of the right size into the right layers of the stratosphere. If you can exploit (intentionally or not) the same mechanisms by which thunderstorms move moisture up and down to the stratosphere, a large nuclear exchange in the wrong areas could be more than sufficient.

        Wildfires in the American West area poor proxy because, fierce as they are, they are geographically diffuse and do not create the narrow circulation cells common to thunderstorms, the Dresden firebombing and, we fear, an unfortunate pattern of nuclear explosions.

    2. Geez, then you end up fighting colossal glaciers and ice floes in the tropics and stuff.

  18. So extreme storms sums up the costs from climate change? We’re good?

    What about the resulting costs that aren’t due to extreme storms, more to just the rise in temperature, sea level rise, Etc., such as costs to agriculture, forestries, fisheries, infrastructure, energy, tourism? How about the costs to human health itself, our ecosystems, and more?

    I addition, that Pielke analysis in Environmental Hazards? It was just found flawed by the same journal.

    “The mixed results in Pielke (2020) for natural disaster loss normalisation studies are due to methodological differences. Flaws exist in commonly used normalisation approaches that assume unitary elasticities between exposure indicators and losses. We refute Pielke’s arguments that statistical studies estimating these relationships are biased... This casts doubt on both the validity of many of the studies reviewed by Pielke (2020) that adopt the standard normalisation approach, and on the main conclusion of the review that the studies showed that climate change has not contributed to trends in natural disaster losses.”

    1. Hey, jackass! Here's your chance to tell us how, specifically and realistically, we migh 'fight climate change', and how soon those efforts will have on just about anything, disregarding your blatant bullshit about wild fires.
      Let's hear it, you pile of lefty shit.

    2. Oh, and:
      "...What about the resulting costs that aren’t due to extreme storms, more to just the rise in temperature, sea level rise, Etc., such as costs to agriculture, forestries, fisheries, infrastructure, energy, tourism? How about the costs to human health itself, our ecosystems, and more?.."

      What about the gains from those issues, jackass?

    3. As I mentioned elsewhere, Switzerland lost 40 skiing days per year since the 1970s. That's a sizeable chunk of our tourist economy. There have been gains like wine in Scotland and Sweden, but I suspect that these are small beer by comparison. The costs of Zika will be interesting to see collated - there are a lot of such diseases and disease vectors moving into previously temperate regions. It's a stretch to add in CoVid-19 (CovFeFe-19?), but arguably it is a consequence of wider environmental and population problems. There's been one death due to anthrax from thawing carcasses so far that I am aware of, and this may become a bigger problem.

      Then there's salination and flooding in Florida due to higher sea levels, fisheries losses due to red tides, dead zones and coral bleaching, a number of serious droughts in grain-basket regions. One piece I saw claimed that 500,000 people a year are internally displaced in the USA alone due to climate change, and that's not including the caravans from the South.

      Picking apart the costs and causes is tedious, but there's no doubt we are already into major costs which by no means come from "disasters".

  19. "Between 2000 to 2019, there were 7,348 major recorded natural disaster events killing 1.23 million people with economic losses amounting to approximately $2.97 trillion. In contrast, between 1980 and 1999 there were only 4,212 natural disasters that killed 1.19 million people and resulted in $1.63 trillion in losses."

    The increase in "recorded natural disasters" is likely because every event is now classified as a "disaster", while the increase in deaths and costs are because far more people and buildings are now located along coasts, in flood plains and other high risk areas.

  20. "We are turning our only home into an uninhabitable hell for millions of people,"

    Good! Billions to hundreds of millions to tens of millions to, now, millions is progress. Another couple years and the only people for whom climate change will be turning our only home into an uninhabitable hell will be the thousands of people working on shitty climate models and their acolytes, and maybe the few hundred people responsible for cleaning up their messes.

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  22. By the way, Ronald, you do this often:

    “Interestingly, gross world product roughly grew by 82 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars between 1999 and 2019.”

    Which in your eyes absorbs the cost increase from natural disasters, 82%. A magic cost absorber, which interestingly you always apply to just climate change costs. Can we apply it to other increasing costs, such as health care, worldwide pandemics, or any others? Or is it only applicable to climate change. In your eyes.

    I hope that gross world product is real’s got some heavy stretching it’s going to have to do.

    1. Can we apply it to other increasing costs, such as health care, worldwide pandemics, or any others? Or is it only applicable to climate change. In your eyes.

      Not even wrong. I don't think you know what the words 'product' or 'cost' mean.

      1. Both Ronald and I do know what they mean. He uses the term “losses.” That’s cost. And he then applies it to WGP. Read it in his article.

        1. Gee, lefty shit, learn to read English first.

    2. "...Can we apply it to other increasing costs, such as health care, worldwide pandemics, or any others? Or is it only applicable to climate change. In your eyes..."

      We might, if a steaming pile of lefty shit like you can show any connection between those and 'climate change'.
      Which you can't.

      1. Hint: When you have to start raving about "lefties" when the subject at hand is climate change, you've lost. It's basically a Godwin. Atmospheric physics has no left-right orientation. This is why the louder you lot rant, the more convinced the American public becomes that climate change is a real and urgent problem.

  23. I looked out my window this morning and the weather wasn't my idea of climatological perfection. DISASTER!!! EMERGENCY!!! Mother Earth to Greta, come in Greta, we need a scolding!

  24. Man or no man, the earth will do as it pleases to remain in balance. The fact that people live in areas more prone to disasters is unfortunate, but those disasters are totally out of the control of man. For some, they have a choice to live out of harms way and for others, there is little chance of escape and their lives may be in some danger. The talk of increased severity and a greater number of catastrophes is the hogwash of the fake global warming crowd. The earth will survive in its natural way and man will never make it.

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