Myanmar has experienced the most deaths from extreme weather between 1998 and 2017. Image: REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman
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- Between 1998 and 2017, more than half a million people lost their lives due to extreme weather, while $3.47 trillion was lost (in PPP)
- There were 7,000 deaths from extreme weather - by far the highest of any country - in Myanmar from 1998 to 2017
Extreme weather events are becoming increasingly frequent and more severe as a result of climate change. They are already a harsh reality for communities all over the world and in the period between 1998 and 2017, 526,000 people lost their lives due to extreme weather while economic losses amounted to $3.47 trillion (in PPP).
Global Climate Risk Index
The above numbers are according to the Global Climate Risk Index which was released by environmental and development organization Germanwatch. It found that last year, Puerto Rico, Sri Lanka and Dominica suffered the greatest impact from extreme weather events connected to climate change. Hurricane Maria caused immense damage in Puerto Rico and Dominica in September 2017 with the former suffering 2,975 fatalities as well as substantial damage to its infrastructure and electricity grid.
In the period between 1998 and 2017, Puerto Rico also suffered the greatest overall impact from extreme weather with 4,000 of its inhabitants losing their lives and damage equating to 4 percent of its GDP. When it comes to fatalities, Myanmar is far ahead of all other countries, experiencing 7,000 deaths per year on average during the above time frame. In terms of average annual fatalities per 100,000 inhabitants, Myanmar also had 14.39, far ahead of second placed Dominica's 4.72. The U.S. came in 80th with 0.15 deaths per 100,000 of the population attributable to extreme weather.
How do poorer countries fare in extreme weather disasters?
In relative terms, poorer developing countries suffer a much greater impact from these natural disasters and the report has highlighted their vulnerability to the planet's changing climate. This is certainly true of Myanmar which was devastated by Cyclone Nargis in 2008, with 140,000 people dying and 2.4 million more getting displaced. The situation also affected developed countries and France is a notable example with nearly 20,000 deaths linked to storms and especially heatwaves over the past two decades.
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The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.
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