The frequency of severe floods and storms around the world could double in 13 years. The climate breakdown and socioeconomic factors, combined with critically unequipped governments, are a high-risk factor for some countries, according to a new study.
As per the authors of the analysis, the historical local and global climate data and information about population density, income, and poverty are incorporated for the first time to estimate the number of hard-hitting disasters expected to occur in the future. They have taken into account the floods and storms that would affect 1,000 people or kill 100 people.
The researchers found the governments around the world as critically unprepared. The authors found that countries such as Australia, Bangladesh, and China are under very high risks. Countries that are already seeing or have seen far more extreme events than the global average, chances are the most for them.
The study is published in the peer-reviewed Climate, Disaster, and Development Journal.
Co-author Vinod Thomas, a visiting professor at the Asian Institute of Management in Manila who has held senior posts at the World Bank, said that in most parts of the world, policymakers not even incorporated climate change effects into their preparedness efforts yet.
“On the one side, there needs to be climate adaptation efforts, such as relocating people from highly exposed coastal regions or building better disaster preparedness that would withstand extreme hurricanes,”
Thomas said. “Equally, there is a strong case for stepping up climate change mitigation in decarbonizing their economies.”
Thomas said the findings of an “unmistakable causal link between carbon emissions and more intense floods and storms come at a crucial time,” as Australia witnessed forest fires and the US and Europe faced floods and powerful storms.
He said countries like Thailand could not handle twice as many catastrophes every year after seeing massive flooding events that killed hundreds and affected millions in 2011. He also suggested them to conduct stress tests to understand what they can withstand.
Firstly the study examined how disasters have increased with the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere over 60 years. The same trend then projected into the future. Based on the population of regions and whether residents are financially secure and prepared for disasters, it considered how much a continued increase in floods and storms would affect areas.
Without relying on climate modeling that uses computers to calculate possible outcomes based on a range of inputs, the researchers used an economic approach.
The journal publishing the study is based in Manila, which is not very well known. The authors said they made the first attempt to publish their work in the well-read journal Science.
According to Don Wuebbles, a professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Illinois who worked on the 2018 US National Climate Assessment, by assuming that disasters will continue to increase at the current rate, the study might be underestimating the future disasters.
He appreciated that the researchers considered both population growth and density but that he was “not sure they adequately considered the changes in climate for the future,” Don said.
Ramón López, the lead author of the study who is a professor at the University of Chile, acknowledged the methods used might not take into account the likelihood that the increase in severe events will be faster than that we have witnessed in the past.