Deaths in climate disasters are 99% lower than they were a century ago

A new United Nations report has open The alarming news is that the number of global disasters has quintupled since 1970 and will increase by Another 40 percent in the coming decades. They find that more people are affected by disasters than ever before, and the UN Deputy Secretary-General warns humanity is “in a downward spiral of self-destruction”.

Surprisingly, the United Nations is misusing data, and its approach has been proven wrong time and time again. Their findings make great headlines — but they’re not based on evidence.

When the United Nations analyzed the number of disaster events, it made a fundamental mistake – and another I called him to make Before: It basically counts all the disasters it’s most respected record of International Disaster Databaseshowed that they were increasing, and then suggested that the planet should perish.

The problem is that documenting all kinds of disasters in the 1970s was much more subtle than it is today, when anyone with a mobile phone could instantly share news of a storm or flood from halfway around the world.

Trees bend in tropical storm winds along North Fort Lauderdale Beach Boulevard in 2017.
Trees bend in tropical storm winds along North Fort Lauderdale Beach Boulevard in 2017.
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That’s why explicitly disaster database experts warning Amateurs do not conclude that an increase in the number of recorded disasters equates to more disasters in reality. Coming to such a conclusion “would be incorrect” because the increase only shows improvements in the registry.

You might think the UN would know better, especially when its top bureaucrats use language that sounds like Armageddon here.

Not surprisingly, climate change is central to the UN agency’s narrative. Their report warns that there is a risk of more extreme climate catastrophes due to global warming, so there is an urgent need to accelerate “climate action.” In a way, the huge international organization has committed the same basic fallacy that many of us do when we see more and more weather disasters being broadcast in the TV news. Just because the world is more connected and we see more catastrophic events in our media doesn’t mean that climate change makes it more harmful.

A house burns during the Bear Fire in Butte County, California, in September 2020.
A house burns during the Bear Fire in Butte County, California, in September 2020.
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So how do we accurately measure whether weather disasters are actually getting worse? The best approach is not to count disasters, but to look instead at deaths. Significant loss of life has been recorded fairly consistently over the past century.

This data shows that climate-related events — floods, droughts, storms, fires, and extreme temperatures — aren’t actually killing more people. The number of deaths decreased by an enormous amount: in the 1920s, nearly half a million people were killed by climate-related disasters. In 2021, the number was less than 7,000. Climate-related disasters kill 99% fewer people than they did 100 years ago.

The UN report includes a number of “deaths linked to global disasters” – and was able to find that, unlike the international disaster database, deaths are higher than ever. They came to this conclusion by oddly including COVID deaths in disasters. Remember, Covid killed more people in 2020 than all other disasters in the world in the past half century. The combination of these hurricane and flood deaths appears inappropriately designed to create headlines rather than understanding, especially when the agency uses the findings to advocate accelerating climate action.

Floodwaters from the Mississippi River cut the road from Missouri to Illinois in 2019.
Floodwaters from the Mississippi River cut the road from Missouri to Illinois in 2019.
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The truth is that deaths from climate disasters have fallen dramatically because richer countries are much better at protecting citizens. Research shows this phenomenon consistently in almost all disasters, including storms, floods, and cold and heat waves.

This is important, because by the end of this century, there will be more people at risk, and climate change will raise sea levels by several feet.

comprehensive one study Shows that at the beginning of 21St In the last century, about 3.4 million people experienced coastal flooding each year, causing annual damages of $11 billion. About $13 billion or 0.05% of global GDP was spent on coastal defenses.

A satellite image of Hurricane Dorian in 2019.
A satellite image of Hurricane Dorian in 2019.
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If we do nothing and keep coastal defenses as they are today, vast areas of the planet will be routinely inundated by 2100, with 187 million people flooding and the damages being $55 trillion annually. This represents more than 5% of global GDP.

But obviously we will adapt, especially because the cost is so low. This means that fewer than ever before will be inundated with floods by 2100. Even the combined cost of adaptation and climate damage will drop to just 0.008% of GDP.

These facts explain why it is important for organizations like the United Nations to give us a true picture of disasters. The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction has a poor form of making unsubstantiated claims. Instead of following the headlines with dodgy math and frightening language, the UN must do better – and it must focus on championing the importance of innovation and adaptation, to save more lives.

A car under the rubble after Hurricane Ida destroyed a building in August 2021.
A car under the rubble after Hurricane Ida destroyed a building in August 2021.
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Björn Lomborg is the chair of the Copenhagen Consensus and a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. His latest book is titled False Alarm: How Climate Change Scares Are Costing Us Trillions, Hurting the Poor, and Failing to Fix the Planet.

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