Climate Change - Threats and Solutions
"In the long run climate change is a massive threat to human development and in some place it is already undermining the international community’s effort to reduce extreme poverty”
- Human Development Report 2007/2008
The Threat of Climate Change
Climate disasters are on the rise. Around 70 percent of disasters are now climate related – up from around 50 percent from two decades ago.
These disasters take a heavier human toll and come with a higher price tag. In the last decade, 2.4 billion people were affected by climate related disasters, compared to1.7 billion in the previous decade. The cost of responding to disasters has risen tenfold between 1992 and 2008.
Destructive sudden heavy rains, intense tropical storms, repeated flooding and droughts are likely to increase, as will the vulnerability of local communities in the absence of strong concerted action.
Over the next twenty years, we can expect more and intense climatic hazards everywhere. Particularly at risk are those communities located in areas prone to floods, cyclones and drought. Suffering repeated climatic shocks depletes their resources and makes them reliant on external assistance.
Most vulnerable are people with insufficient assets or resources, who are less prepared or equipped to cope with major climate disruption. Many other factors influence individual vulnerability, such as HIV/AIDS, access to public services, environmental degradation, inadequate housing, conflict and insecurity.
The effect of climate change is already straining the disaster relief system and the threat of extreme climatic events in the future is likely to generate higher demands for disaster assistance that will prove more costly.
We cannot afford to stand-by and watch as the destructive effects of repeated climate disasters overwhelm vulnerable communities the world over. We must respond and adapt quickly to the challenge.
This all requires a rethink of humanitarian action. In hazard hotspots, we must shift our focus and invest in better disaster planning and preparedness to reduce the effects of extreme weather on communities. Rather than react to emergencies, we must learn to act sooner and act smarter.