Thursday, May 7, 2009
Massive Weather Changes
Signs of a new era:
'Huge year for natural disasters'
The past year 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.
Although there were fewer "loss-producing events" in 2008 than in the previous year, the impact of natural disasters was higher.
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 totaled about $200bn (£137bn), with uninsured losses totalling $45bn; about 50% more than in 2007.
This makes 2008, the third most expensive year on record; after 1995, when the Kobe earthquake struck Japan, and 2005, the year of Hurricane Katrina in the US.
Torsten Jeworrek of Munich Re said, the pattern continued a long-term trend, already observed.
"Climate change has already started, and is very probably contributing to increasingly frequent weather extremes, and ensuing natural catastrophes," he said.
Asia, was the continent worst hit by natural disasters in 2008.
The year saw, five major hurricanes in the North Atlantic.
Cyclone Nargis in Burma, killed an estimated 130,000 people, and devastated much of the low-lying Irrawaddy Delta region.
While the earthquake which struck China's Sichuan province in May, left an estimated 70,000 dead, and millions homeless.
The losses of $85bn made Sichuan, the second most expensive earthquake after Kobe.
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.