The world's top reinsurers, Switzerland-based Swiss Re and Germany's Munich Re, recently released a report on the human and economic losses of 2010.
At 950 recorded natural disasters last year, 2010 was the second most devastating year since 1980. In terms of human lives, 295,000 people perished in natural calamities, a stark contrast to the previous year, when 15,000 succumbed.
In terms of financial cost, Chile's massive earthquake in February was the most expensive disaster of 2010, with losses totaling around US$30 billion. Combined with Haiti's calamitous quake in January, these two disasters were among the five worst in 2010, which also included the quake in central China, the heat wave across Russia and widespread floods in Pakistan.
The worldwide economic loss in 2010 of US$222 billion from natural disasters was more than triple that of 2009. Munich Re's report read: “The high number of weather-related natural catastrophes and record temperatures both globally and in different regions of the world provide further indications of advancing climate change.”
Climate Expert Prof. Peter Höppe - Head of Geo Risks Research at Munich RE: Seen on a global level, 2010 most probably has been the warmest year since we have started records 130 years ago. The cold weather which we have seen November and December in Europe and at the US east coast is no contradiction to these developments and no contradiction to global warming at all. To sum up, the year 2010 has been a year with many and high losses caused by natural catastrophes.
Moreover, these losses occurred in predominantly in developing countries, identified as being the most vulnerable and dependent on financial aid both to recover and prepare for future climate change impacts. Their predicament was described in a recent study by World Bank lead environmental economist Mr. Sergio Margulis.
Sergio Margulis - Lead environmental economist, World Bank (M): If countries need to adapt, what would it cost if the world is going on a two-degree trajectory? In this case, our estimates are between US$70-100 billion per year between now and 2050. It's a lot of money every year. We want to avoid if we can; we shouldn't play with this and make things worse.
VOICE: We thank Munich Re, Swiss Re, Mr. Margulis and the World Bank for your research quantifying the harrowing tolls of climate change, especially in terms of precious human lives. May this help to awaken everyone to the need to protect one another, our animal co-inhabitants, and our shared planetary environment.
Addressing the high costs of climate change- induced devastations during an April 2009 videoconference in South Korea, Supreme Master Ching Hai highlighted the number one action needed to safeguard all beings on Earth.