FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Oct. 11, 2011
Contact: Ken or Kate Gooderham -- (239) 489-2616
Harry Simmons, ASBPA President, (910) 200-7867
Weather's deadly impact on the wane
As we focus more on the impact of natural disasters, they actually are causing fewer fatalities than before.
Extreme weather events are big news -- although for those of us who live in coastal areas, no news is usually good news. With all this focus on weather, have we lost perspective on its real impact? A recent Reason Foundation report chronicled the number of worldwide deaths caused by extreme weather events between 1900 and 2010. Try the quiz below to find out more:
- The most deadly extreme weather category between 1900 and 2010 was:
ANSWER : Droughts were responsible for 60 percent of deaths caused by extreme weather during this 110-year time period. Even that number has gone down. It peaked in the 1920s when there were 235 deaths a year per million people; since then, it fell by 99.9 percent.
- Flood deaths have increased since 1900.
ANSWER : False. Although floods were to blame for over 30 percent of the deaths from natural disasters during this time period, that toll peaked in the 1930s. Deaths from floods have fallen more than 98 percent, and there was an average of only one flood death per million people from 2000 to 2010.
- Storm deaths (hurricanes, cyclones, tornadoes, typhoons) spiked in the 1970s.
ANSWER : True. The death rate from storms has dropped 75 percent since then, with storms being blamed for two deaths per million people from 2000 to 2011 -- seven percent of the overall extreme weather-related mortality.
- Worldwide, extreme weather events were responsible for what percentage of the world’s deaths between 2000 and 2010?
ANSWER : 0.07 percent, or less than one of every 1,000 deaths.
- Between 2001 and 2010, which worldwide causes of death were higher than extreme-weather?
- Road traffic
- All of the above
ANSWER : All of them. Extreme weather was responsible for approximately 38,000 deaths worldwide while road traffic topped the list at 1.3 million. Violence was responsible for 600,000 and war was responsible for 200,000.
Better communication and improved technology are credited with the decrease in storm related mortality. For example, although Hurricane Irene did not end up as serious a threat as originally anticipated, the intensive and extensive public communication in advance of the storm was credited as limiting the potential for harm.
“Overall mortality around the world is increasing, while mortality from weather events is decreasing,” said Dr. Indur Goklany, author of the report. “Despite the intense media coverage of storms and climate change’s prominent role in political debates, humanity is coping far better with extreme weather events than it is with other much more important health and safety problems.”
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