In the wake of the catastrophic destruction by Super Typhoon Haiyan across the archipelago of the Philippines, a frantic international effort has descended on the nation to clear roads and deliver emergency supplies desperately needed by injured and traumatized survivors.
Any country would have been challenged by this Category 5 typhoon, but the fragile Philippines was especially ill-equipped to cope.
According to the annual Germanwatch Global Climate Watch Index 2014 released this month, in 2012 Haiti, the Philippines, and Pakistan topped the list of countries most affected by extreme storms and weather events. In the decade 1993 to 2012, Honduras, Myanmar and Haiti were the top countries most affected by extreme weather.
The report, which bases its analysis on data obtained from the renowned globally-operated Munich Re insurance company, was presented at the UN climate talks in Warsaw earlier this month. It stated that of the 10 most affected countries during that decade, eight were developing countries and only two were developed nations.
According to the GCWI report, globally from 1993 to 2012 more than 530,000 people died as a result of 15,000 extreme weather events, with losses amounting to more than US$2.5 trillion. Those events included tropical and winter storms, hail, tornadoes, storm surges, rainfall leading to floods and landslides, extreme cold, wildfires and droughts.
Many worry that climate change and warming oceans will spawn more frequent catastrophic storms like Haiyan. A World Bank 2012 study titled Turn Down the Heat: Why a 4 Degree C Warmer World Must Be Avoided highlights the extent of potential threats the world and vulnerable people in poor countries will face.
Already, according to a Bloomberg Industries’ report, Haiyan is expected to leave an economic impact of $14 billion.