Global warming is already causing an increase in the incidence and severity of disasters in many parts of the world.
Increasing global surface temperatures cause more water vapour in the atmospehere and this can cause more and stronger storms to develop. Increased ocean surface temperatures and sea level rise can also contribute to extra coastal erosion and incidences of flooding.
Many of these effects are explained here by the US Geological Survey (USGS).
Are climate disasters happening?
For many countries in the world the consequences of current climate change are already here.
The International Rescue Committee (IRC) works in more than 50 countries and helps people affected by humanitarian crises. In this report they identify 10 countries that are most at risk from climate disasters and least able to deal with them.
- Somalia: Drought and extreme food insecurity;
- Afghanistan: Drought and intense flooding;
- Yemen: Desertificaion and drought;
- Nigeria: Flooding.
In many cases other issues - including political conflict - have exacerbated the problems related to climate and reduced the ability of people to deal with them .
Are climate disasters becoming more frequent?
We've always had hurricanes, droughts, wildfires, flooding and high winds. But in recent times the incidence of these exterme climate events has greatly increased, and they are generally becoming more severe.
This page provides links to recent extreme weather events.
According to Oxfam the number of climate-related disasters has tripled in the last 30 years. Amongst more recent disasters they highlight are cyclones Idai and Kenneth, the Australian wildfires of 2020 and the ongoing drought in East Africa.
And the UN reports that climate and weather related disasters have surged five-fold oner the last 50 years.
Are less people dying from climate disasters?
Despite major international organisatons' claims that the incidence and severity of climate-related disasters are increasing, climate crisis deniers claim the opposite.
Their claims are often based on the same source data as this chart, which shows annual averages by decade of the number of deaths from disasters, although (for obvious reasons) deniers usually omit the first 2 decades of the 20th Century.
For a good discussion of what this data shows see this article and for details of a recent "early warning" initiative see this article.
So what did happen in the 1920s, 1930s, ...?
For a detailed explanation of the extreme events that caused the spikes in numbers of climate-related deaths, this is a good video.
The graphic shows a still from the video.