World leaders responsible for the staggering rise in natural disasters, says UN

The United Nations (UN) has blamed world political and business leaders for their failures to take action to mitigate the impact of climatic change, which has been causing a staggering rise in natural disasters for the last 20 years.

According to the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR), there has been a sharp increase in natural disasters since 2000, doubling up disasters recorded from 1980-1999. The report says there have been 7,348 major natural disasters including earthquakes, tsunamis and hurricanes in the past 20 years. These disasters claimed 1.23 million lives, affected 4.2 billion people and resulted in $2.97 trillion in global economic losses, the report said.

China has been the worst affected country over the past two decades which experienced more than 500 natural disasters. USA followes with 467 disasters. The 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, the 2008 Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar and the 2010 Haiti earthquake are considered the deadliest disasters because they each killed more than 100,000 people.

The report has attributed these sharp increase to rising global temperatures, which scientists say is increasing the frequency of extreme weather and disaster events. In a joint foreword to the UN report, UNDRR chief Mami Mizutori and Debarati Guha-Sapir of Belgium’s Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters noted that although countries like India and Bangladesh have saved many lives through better preparedness, ‘the odds continue to be stacked against them’.

Almost all nations have not done enough to prevent death and illness by the coronavirus despite urgings from experts and UN agencies, the statement said. “We are wilfully destructive. That is the only conclusion one can come to”, Mizutori said.

Mizutori blamed the governments for failing to stop the planet from turning into ‘an uninhabitable hell for millions’, adding that COVID-19 is the latest proof that political and business leaders are yet to tune into the world around them.

She urged governments to show leadership and called for better preparation for looming disasters. “It really is all about governance if we want to deliver this planet from the scourge of poverty, further loss of species and biodiversity, the explosion of urban risk and the worst consequences of global warming,” she said.