Natural Disasters Left 42 Million People Homeless Last Year


Photo credit: Giro55 via Flickr/CC BY
Twice as Many People Were Displaced by Natural Disasters in 2010 as 2009
The massive flooding along the Mississippi, the severe drought in Texas, the bizarre tornado season -- the seriously extreme weather that marked the first half of 2011 is almost enough to make you forget about the seriously extreme weather of 2010. As you'll recall, that year saw uber-intense snowstorms in the US, devastating heat waves in Russia, and crippling flooding in Pakistan and Australia. Seeing as how this weather is being described by climate scientists as "the new normal", perhaps we should start getting a sense for what kind of global impact it will render upon human society. For starters, extreme weather led 42 million people to flee their homes in 2010 -- almost twice as many as in 2009.That's the latest assessment from the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, which noted that only 17 million people were displaced by such events in 2009. The Associated Press has the details:

the increase from 17 million displaced people in 2009 was mainly due to the impact of "mega-disasters" such as the massive floods in China and Pakistan and the earthquakes in Chile and Haiti. It said more than 90 percent of the disaster displacements were caused by weather-related hazards such as floods and storms that were probably impacted by global warming, but it couldn't say to what extent.

"The intensity and frequency of extreme weather events is increasing, and this trend is only set to continue. With all probability, the number of those affected and displaced will rise as human-induced climate change comes into full force," said Elisabeth Rasmusson, the secretary general of the Norwegian Refugee Council.

The term "climate refugees" was coined to describe this group of people, though the fact that a warming planet will leave millions of people uprooted and homeless remains largely ignored by the general public. But there's a reason that US military high-ups at the Pentagon and elsewhere regard climate change as a "threat multiplier" -- as more and more of these people lose their homes, belongings, families, and livelihoods, it's going to put major strain on what are often already fragile societies.

Not only is it brutal and sad that millions of mostly poor people are having their lives ruined by weather events that scientists believe are exacerbated by the industrial pollution of mostly rich people, it will likely cause further unrest and turmoil in the world at large.

But it's a sad truth that this sort of reasoning -- the 'moral argument' for addressing climate change -- falls largely on deaf ears here in the states.

More on Global Climate Change & Disasters
Will Climate -Related Disasters Convince Americans Global Warming?
"Natural Disasters Will Accelerate" With Climate Change : Bill Clinton

Tags: Global Climate Change

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