Despite concerns about global warming and a large increase in the number of reported storms and droughts, the world's death rate from extreme weather events was lower from 2000 to 2010 than it has been in any decade since 1900, according to a new Reason Foundation study. Chronicling extreme weather categories of droughts, floods, wildfires, storms (hurricanes, cyclones, tornadoes, typhoons, etc.) and extreme temperatures, both hot and cold, the study found:
- Droughts were the most deadly extreme weather category between 1900 and 2010, responsible for over 60 percent of extreme weather deaths during that time and peaking in the 1920s.
- Floods, peaking in the 1930s, were to blame for 30 percent of the deaths during the timeframe studied, making them the second most deadly extreme weather category.
- The average number of extreme weather events recorded increased from 2.5 per year in the 1920s to 8.5 in the 1940s to 350 per year for the period 2000-2010.
Over the studied timeframe, the fatalities caused by these extreme weather scenarios have been drastically cut. Deaths from droughts, which were responsible for more than half of all extreme weather deaths, have been reduced by more than 99.9 percent. This drop is largely attributable to global food production advancements and society's increased ability to transport food and medical supplies. Similarly, deaths from floods have fallen by over 98 percent since their peak in the 1930s, with an average of approximately one flood death per year per million people from 2000 to 2010.
The study also notes the drastic increase of extreme weather reporting during the studied timeframe. The researchers suggest that advancements in international telecommunications, in addition to an increasing tendency to declare natural disaster emergencies, account for this increase.
Source: Indur M. Goklany, "Extreme Weather Events Are Killing Fewer People than Ever Before," Reason Foundation, September 22, 2011.
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