Friday, January 2, 2009

2008 Was A Huge Year for Natural Disasters

This news was taken from BBC News.

The past year (2008) has been one of the most devastating ever in terms of natural disasters, one of the world's biggest re-insurance companies has said. Munich Re said the impact of the disasters was greater than in 2007 in both human and economic terms.

The company suggested climate change was boosting the destructive power of disasters like hurricanes and flooding. It has called for stricter curbs on emissions to prevent further uncontrollable weather scenarios.

More than 220,000 people died in events like cyclones, earthquakes and flooding, the most since 2004, the year of the Asian tsunami. Meanwhile, overall global losses totalled about $200bn (£137bn), with uninsured losses totalling $45bn, about 50% more than in 2007.

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The most expensive single event in 2008 was Hurricane Ike, which brought $30bn in losses. It was one of five major hurricanes in the North Atlantic over the year, which saw a total of 16 tropical storms. In addition, roughly 1,700 tornadoes across the US caused several billion dollars of damage, as did periods of low pressure weather activity in Europe.

Munich Re quoted World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) figures showing that 2008 was the 10th warmest year since reliable records began, meaning that the 10 warmest years on record all occurred in the past 12 years.

"It is now very probable that the progressive warming of the atmosphere is due to the greenhouse gases emitted by human activity," said Prof Peter Hoppe, head of Munich Re's Geo Risks Research.

"The logic is clear: when temperatures increase there is more evaporation and the atmosphere has a greater capacity to absorb water vapour, with the result that its energy content is higher.
"The weather machine runs into top gear, bringing more intense severe weather events with corresponding effects in terms of losses."

The company said world leaders must put in place "effective and binding rules on CO2 emissions" to curb climate change and ensure that "future generations do not have to live with weather scenarios that are difficult to control".

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