Sydney Morning Herald
Natural disasters 'more likely' today
August 13, 2006

http://www.smh.com.au/news/National/Natural-disasters-more-likely-today/2006/08/13/1155407659115.html



Natural disasters that have multiplied worldwide since the 1950s will increase in frequency due to climate change, a conference has been told.

Professor Hartwig de Haen, retired assistant director-general of the United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organisation, said that each year 79,000 people died and 200 million more were directly affected by natural disasters such as droughts and floods.

And the annual global damages bill had reached $A90 billion, he said.

Prof de Haen, speaking at the International Association of Agricultural Economists (IAAE) conference on the Gold Coast on Sunday, said the number of natural disasters had been growing rapidly, impacting especially hard on the very poor.

"The costs associated with natural disasters are difficult to estimate," Prof de Haen said.

"However, there is sufficient evidence that they have increased several-fold since the 1950s and strong indications that this trend will continue.

"Scientific predictions point to a further increase in the frequency and intensity of hazards, with a five-fold global cost increase over the next fifty years, mainly due to climate change and to further concentration of the world's population in vulnerable habitats."

Professor Per Pinstrup-Andersen of Cornell University in the United States told the conference natural disasters due to climate change or other factors hit the world's poorest people the hardest.

"The poor live mostly in regions prone to floods and drought which are low in natural resources and infrastructure. They have no buffer," he said.

"When a disaster takes place, it increases the 'silent death' which is already occurring among these people - more children die."

Prof Pinstrup-Andersen and Prof de Haen called for better disaster risk management and the development of infrastructure such as roads in areas where disasters were most likely to occur.

The IAAE is a worldwide confederation of agricultural economists and other professionals concerned with agricultural economic problems.

The conference, with the theme "the contribution of agricultural economics to critical policy issues" began on Saturday and ends on Friday.

2006 AAP


Back to www.gaiaguys.net/meier.htm


Back to gaiaguys homepage