Resilience to Extreme WeatherNew report highlights “significant and increasing” risks from extreme weather
A comprehensive new report, published by the Royal Society, indicates that exposure of human populations to extreme weather is set to increase as global climate and population size, location, and age continue to change. The report focuses on the risks to people from floods, droughts, and heatwaves. These are some of the most frequent and damaging extreme events that currently occur and their impacts will change with the changing climate. The report also calls for changes to global financial accounting and regulation to ensure that extreme weather risk is made explicit. At present, these risks are not systematically factored into investors’ valuations or assessed by creditors.
Thundersorm spawns a lightnig strike in the distance // Source: sc.gov
University of Exeter researchers have played an important role in creating a comprehensive new report indicating that the global risk from extreme weather is set to intensify.
The critical report, published by the Royal Society, indicates that exposure of human populations to extreme weather is set to increase as global climate and population size, location, and age continue to change. A University of Exeter release reports that a Working Group consisting of fifteen world-leading academics, including Exeter professors Peter Cox and Katrina Brown, were brought together to produce the influential report, published last Thursday, 27 November.
It presents new maps showing the combined impact of climate and demographic changes across the world on the exposure of people to extreme weather. The maps highlight those areas where there is the greatest increased risk of populations being vulnerable towards to end of the century.
The report focuses on the risks to people from floods, droughts, and heatwaves. These are some of the most frequent and damaging extreme events that currently occur and their impacts will change with the changing climate. It shows:
- Increasing numbers of people will live in areas that are exposed to extreme weather events exacerbate the risks from floods and droughts in many regions, but especially East, West, and Central Africa, India, and South-East Asia.
- The number of over-65 year olds is increasing; this is one of the groups most vulnerable to heatwaves. With current numbers, the number of heatwave exposure events this group experiences each year could increase from 0.1 billion today to almost one billion in 2100. If we do nothing to mitigate climate change, and population growth and distribution proceeds as expected, this number could rise to four billion.
- Changes in temperature and humidity could result in significant reductions in ability to work outdoors across much of Africa, Asia, and parts of North, South, and Central America. This could impact on rural communities and food production.
The report calls for action at all levels of government — international, national and local — to make society more resilient to extreme weather events. In 2015 important international agreements will be reached on disaster risk reduction, sustainable development and climate change. These agreements will be much more effective in addressing extreme weather and its impacts if they are linked with, and reinforce, each other.