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#GettingWorse: Fatality rates from climate disasters

01 May 2024 | Science Notes

Last week we quoted that scowling little killjoy Greta Thunberg who declared to the UN apropos of climate change that “people are suffering, people are dying, entire ecosystems are collapsing.” We contrasted her jeremiad with data showing accelerating increases in global food production. This week we look again at the same words and contrast them with declining fatality rates from climate hazards around the world, in rich and poor countries. People are dying... far less often than a few decades ago.

The data were collected by Italian researchers Giuseppe Formetta and Luc Feyen and published in a peer-reviewed study in 2019. The title pretty much sums up the data: “Empirical evidence of declining global vulnerability to climate-related hazards.” The authors look at data on floods, flash floods, coastal floods, extreme cold, extreme heat and wind. They first show that raw numbers of some of these hazards are increasing. But, they note, because populations and economies are growing over time, so the proper measure of vulnerability requires looking at deaths as a fraction of the population, and to losses as a % of GDP. And when we do that the picture is remarkably optimistic.

They look at six types of climate hazards plus the sum of all put together. And they add up deaths in increasing radiuses around the event from 50 km up to 400 km. The number of fatalities as a fraction of population from 1980 to 2016 looks like this:

The green line shows the data for poor countries and the gray line shows the data for rich countries. The black line is the average of the two. Although fatality rates were higher in poor countries than in rich ones in the 1980s, they also fell more quickly in poor countries and now are about the same as those in rich countries. And overall the rates have dropped dramatically around the world.

Dollar-value losses follow the same pattern:

In rich and poor countries alike people are less vulnerable and more resilient to all types of climate hazards. Fewer people are dying from climate hazards, and losses as a fraction of income are shrinking. Once again, the opposite of what the doomsters say.

3 comments on “#GettingWorse: Fatality rates from climate disasters”

  1. Very interesting that the dollar value losses declined as fast as the fatalities when you consider the very recent trend of putting mega mansions on ocean and river front properties. I frequently tell people that things have never been better and the real scary thing as that our situation will almost certainly improve in the future.....without the help of any government programs!

  2. If “ the system” works for developing new construction codes and planning infrastructure for future development, designing better for possible extreme events, or failure to properly evaluate past 100 year flood levels, then the charts should show what they are showing….and warming of a degree in a century is not going to do anything with regards to % of GDP…..These are Civil Engineering considerations with very, very little (in fact unnecessary) Climate Science input.

  3. As repetitive as it to say that climate-related deaths are down dramatically from decades ago,it remains necessary to keep showing these graphs and
    the empirical data.Because the mainstream keeps insisting that heatwaves,floods,droughts,hurricanes are getting worse and worse.And it just ain't so!
    So let's keep on spinning the broken record as long as needed.

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