Weather disasters decreased despite warming, study finds

A recent scientific study has confirmed what climate realists have been highlighting for some time: Natural and climate-related disasters have been declining rather than increasing during the 21st century.

In a paper published this year in one of the world’s leading journals on environmental hazards, Italian scientists Gianluca Alimonti and Luigi Mariani analyzed the number and temporal trends of natural disasters reported since 1900.

Based on the best available data, the two scientists concluded the 21st century has seen “a decreasing trend [of natural disasters] to 2022” which is “characterized by a significant decline in number of events.”

The researchers emphasized that their conclusion “sits in marked contradiction to earlier analyses by UN bodies which predict an increasing number of natural disasters and impacts in concert with global warming.”

“Our analyses strongly refute this assertion,” they wrote.

For years, international agencies such as the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the World Meteorological Organization and the International Red Cross have claimed that climate-related disasters are escalating.

“Weather disasters are striking the world four to five times more often and causing seven times more damage than in the 1970s,” the WMO reported in 2021.

Disaster and weather officials affiliated with the UN claim this dramatic rise is due to global warming: The changing climate, they say, is making weather disasters stronger and more frequent.

The increased frequency of heat waves, droughts, flooding, winter storms, hurricanes, wildfires and other extreme weather events prove the negative impact of a warming world, according to various UN agencies and nongovernmental organizations.

Yet, as the actual data used by these organizations reveals, the last 20 years have in fact seen a significant decline in such events.

It turns out that climate alarmists have based their claims on a highly misleading comparison of disaster data of the late 20th and the early 21st centuries.

By their tally, the period from 1980 to 2000 saw about 4,200 natural disasters —with the number increasing sharply, to more than 8,000, during the first 20 years of this century.

This conclusion, however, is fatally flawed: It fails to take into account the huge increase in the global reporting of disasters engendered by the invention and rapid global dissemination of new communication technologies since the 1980s.

The arrival of the internet and other new communication tools has undoubtedly accelerated the reporting of disasters from all corners of the world — events that were significantly underreported in earlier decades.

As well, the number of people killed by natural and climate-related disasters has fallen steadily over the past 120 years — from 500,000 deaths per decade in the early 20th century down to less than 50,000 per decade in the last ten years.

And, contrary to claims by NGOs and government officials, climate-related disaster losses have also declined as a percentage of global GDP during the last 30 years — from about 0.25% of GDP in 1990 to less than 0.20% in 2023.

The study by Alimonti and Mariani vindicates what we at the Global Warming Policy Foundation have been pointing out for a long time: Climate-related disasters are not on the rise, despite warming temperatures.

International agencies and the news media have hyped climate disasters for far too long, while ignoring the factual downward trend.

”First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win,” as the saying goes.

UN agencies and NGOs have been misleading the public for years. It’s past time for the truth to win out.

Benny Peiser is the director of the London-based Global Warming Policy Foundation.

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