Climate change link to natural disasters affecting over 60 million, WMO

Published by Shamim Malekmian on

March 29th, 2019

Numerous natural disasters affecting 62 million people worldwide were triggered by climate change in 2018, the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) has revealed.

The international body’s State of the Global Climate report has confirmed that most floods, displacements and various environmental hazards were caused by climate change last year.

The WMO – the UN’s authoritative voice on weather and climate – has warned that the number of malnourished people has climbed to 821 million worldwide partly owing to climate-change-induced droughts.

The new WMO report also reveals that over 2 million of the 17.7 million internally displaced persons in 2018 were forced to abandon their lands due to extreme climate events. Floods were responsible for 32 per cent of those migrations, with unprecedented droughts another major factor.

The WMO’s Secretary General Petteri Taalas expressed dismay at the fact that the annual report is highlighting more negative climate implications year-on-year.  

“Extreme weather has continued in the early 2019, most recently with tropical Cyclone Idai, which caused devastating floods and tragic loss of life in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi,” he said.

“Idai’s victims personify why we need the global agenda on sustainable development, climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction,” Mr Taalas continued. 

UN Secretary General António Guterres said that the report’s findings are in line with the latest findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC).

“The data released in this report give cause for great concern,” he warned. “The past four years were the warmest on record, with the global average surface temperature in 2018 approximately 1°C above the pre-industrial baseline.”

The UN’s climate authority has outlined “interconnections” between climate and air quality, with 125 million people exposed to heatwaves. The WMO estimates that heatwaves will continue to persist with more intensity, frequency and duration.

In certain parts of the world, the summer of 2018 was recorded as the hottest ever measured with June 26 the warmest night in history.

The new report also outlines the staggering rate in which sea levels are continuing to rise, with levels in 2018 the highest ever measured at 3.7 millimetres.

World oceans’ consumption of carbon emissions has also led to acidification of oceans that affects the ability of marine organism to build and retain shells and skeletal material.

According to the meteorological authority, Arctic sea-ice levels were below average throughout 2018, reaching its lowest ever measurement in the first two months of the year.

The world’s glacier mass is also dwindling at a rapid pace with 2018 the 31st consecutive years for negative glacier mass, according to the WMO report.

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Shamim Malekmian

Shamim is a Senior Reporter at The Green News and a contributing writer to the Irish Examiner, Cork Evening Echo and the Dublin Inquirer.