UN: Climate change causes one global disaster a week

Climate change has become such a problem across the world that it now causes one natural disaster a week, according to the United Nations (UN).

A new report from The Guardian notes:

“Catastrophes such as cyclones Idai and Kenneth in Mozambique and the drought afflicting India make headlines around the world. But large numbers of ‘lower impact events’ that are causing death, displacement and suffering are occurring much faster than predicted, said Mami Mizutori, the UN secretary-general’s special representative on disaster risk reduction. ‘This is not about the future, this is about today.’

“This means that adapting to the climate crisis could no longer be seen as a long-term problem, but one that needed investment now, she said. ‘People need to talk more about adaptation and resilience.'”

The current estimated cost of climate change disasters is $520 billion a year, while the cost of building infrastructure resistant to global heating would require an investment of $2.7 trillion over the next two decades.

The UN’s Mizutori added that immediate actions need to be taken as the Earth continues to warm:

“This is not a lot of money [in the context of infrastructure spending], but investors have not been doing enough. Resilience needs to become a commodity that people will pay for.” That would mean normalising the standards for new infrastructure, such as housing, road and rail networks, factories, power and water supply networks, so that they were less vulnerable to the effects of floods, droughts, storms and extreme weather.

Instead of looking to the future, most nations dealing with climate change have taken the path of mitigation, i.e. cutting greenhouse gas emissions. But such an approach can lead the public to believe that mitigation will solve the problem. Those arguments are no longer valid, Mizutori noted:

“We talk about a climate emergency and a climate crisis, but if we cannot confront this [issue of adapting to the effects] we will not survive. We need to look at the risks of not investing in resilience.”

Some of the suggested “nature-based” solutions include building mangrove swamps, forests, and wetlands which could form natural barriers to increased flooding in many parts of the world.

Another challenge is the building standards used for construction:

“One of the governance issues cited by Mizutori was that while responsibility for the climate crisis and greenhouse gas emissions was usually held in one ministry, such as the economics, environment or energy department, responsibility for infrastructure and people’s protection was held elsewhere in government.

“’We need to take a more holistic view of the risks,’ she said.

The problem of climate change won’t be solved with some magic bullet or merely by attacking it with one approach. Instead, we have to view it as an issue that must be seen in its entirety. That will require us all to change not only how we live, but also how we think.


Featured Image Via NBC News


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Andrew Bradford

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