According to a report released from the UN’s Internal Displacement Monitoring System (IDMS) Tuesday, over 42 million people were displaced due to natural disasters in 2010. By contrast two other primary drivers of displacement, violence and warfare, resulted in 27 million refugees, substantially less than those caused by natural disasters.
The 42 million displacements were more than twice the number recorded due to natural disasters in 2009 (17 million). Even more disturbing is the fact that 90 percent of the 2010 displacements were caused by extreme weather. According to experts, the strength, severity and frequency of these storms was likely impacted by global warming:
“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 areas most impacted in 2010 included much of Asia. Fires raged across Russia. China, India, Pakistan and Australia were severely impacted by flooding. In China alone, more than 15 million people were displaced by raging water.
So far, in 2011, a vicious series of weather disasters has displaced tens of thousands in the US. A single tornado, the one that hit Joplin MIssouri, rendered nearly 25,000 people homeless after 8,000 dwellings were destroyed.
These extreme events may come as a shock to US citizens, many of whom have been hypnotized by demagogues who still deny global warming is happening. But, to scientists and climate researchers, the sad spectacle of storms, floods and fires raging across the homeland is one they have increasingly and loudly predicted for many years. From the United States Global Climate Change Research Program:
“Climate-related changes are already observed in the United States and its coastal waters. These include increases in heavy downpours, rising temperature and sea level, rapidly retreating glaciers, thawing permafrost, lengthening growing seasons, lengthening ice-free seasons in the ocean and on lakes and rivers, earlier snowmelt, and alterations in river flows. These changes are projected to grow.”
The fact that global warming induced extreme weather has resulted in more homes lost and more people displaced than warfare should come as a sign of the dire consequences of unrelenting fossil fuel consumption. With scientists expecting impacts from global warming to worsen, it is high time we make the changes necessary to preserve modern civilization: phased cessation of fossil fuel burning and rapid transition to wind, solar and nuclear base load power.