Saturday, April 07, 2012

Natural disasters in 2011

"2011 was the most expensive year in terms of disaster losses in history, mostly because of a spate of disasters affecting developed countries," according to a report by the Brookings Institution and London School of Economics, in a new report entitled, "The Year That Shook the Rich: A Review of Natural Disasters in 2011":

Globally, the economic cost of disasters in 2011 was $380 billion, of which $210 billion were the result of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. This was 72 percent higher than the losses in 2005, the second costliest year in history for disaster-related losses.

In terms of both the number of disasters and the number of people affected by them, 2011 was a below-average year in comparison with the previous decade. With 302 disasters recorded by the International Disaster Database (EM-DAT), 2011 saw the lowest number of disasters since the beginning of the millennium. The number of disasters was almost 20 percent below the average annual figure of 384 natural disasters from 2001-2010. There were 206 million disaster-affected persons in 2011, which is about ten percent below the ten-year average.

Developed countries were particularly hard-hit by disasters in 2011 as evidenced by floods in Australia, earthquakes in New Zealand, an earthquake/tsunami in Japan and a series of disasters in the United States. While natural disasters result in higher economic losses in rich countries, fewer people tend to be affected and loss of life is less than in developing countries. Higher levels of preparedness, resilience and good governance in many cases help richer countries to recover faster from natural disasters than poorer ones.
The drought in Texas (right) may have the most relevance to Arizona demonstrating "the deadly combination of higher-than-average temperatures coupled with dramatically lower
than average rainfall."

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