Climate Change, Rapid Urbanization Contribute to Disaster Toll

2008 saw one of the greatest number of deaths worldwide from natural disasters. Factors contributing to the high number of deaths include extreme weather brought about by climate change, as well as rapid urbanization in vulnerable areas.

"Myanmar's devastating cyclone and central China's earthquake drove up the annual disaster death toll, causing most of the fatalities and making 2008 one of the deadliest years for natural disasters so far this decade, the United Nations said Thursday. At least 235,816 people lost their lives in 321 disasters around the world last year, said the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has warned that global warming would increase the number of extreme weather events and cause more natural disasters.

Increasing numbers of people living in urban areas increase the risk of deaths when a natural disaster occurs. Environmental degradation and poverty, which exposes poor communities more to natural hazards than better protected wealthier areas, also make it difficult to protect people from disasters."

Full Story: 2008 deadly year for natural disasters


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