Rate of climate disasters is now one per week, UN warns

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Mami Mizutori, the UN secretary-general’s special representative on disaster risk reduction, has warned that climate disasters are now happening at a higher frequency than ever before. Speaking with The Guardian, Mizutori said that ‘lower impact’ climate crises are now occurring at a rate of approximately one per week. Such events get less global attention and media coverage than catastrophes such as the drought in India or the recently recurring cyclones in mozambique, even though they are equally capable of causing death, displacement and suffering. 

Mizutori expressed the urgency of the situation and urged governments to start investing in “adaptation and resilience measures designed to curb the effects of ongoing lower-impact events” instead of treating climate change as a long-term issue. She explained, “this is not about the future, this is about today”.

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The UN warning has brought to light the dire need for action and adaptation, instead of just focusing on mitigation, as is the norm when dealing with climate change. As The Guardian’s environment correspondent, Fiona Harvey puts it: “The question of adapting to its effects has taken a distant second place, in part because activists and scientists were concerned for years that people would gain a false complacency that we need not cut emissions as we could adapt to the effects instead, and also because while cutting emissions could be clearly measured, the question of adapting or increasing resilience was harder to pin down.”

According to a report by The World Bank and the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery, climate change disasters are now inflicting economic damage that adds up to around $520 billion, driving close to 26 million people to poverty every year. 

Urgent changes are needed to respond to this reality: which would you prioritise? 

What might the implications of this be? What related signals of change have you seen?

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