Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Natural Disasters

Andrew C. Revkin points to a UN study on the risk of death from natural disasters around the globe. This is from a map based on the study:



Says Revkin:
Some experts on disaster preparation aren’t happy with some aspects of the report, and many feel there’s little substance behind international pledges to cut risks. But many told me this report is still a helpful window on the outsize vulnerability of a few places on the planet where the costs of calamity are highest. A prime factor contributing to increased vulnerability is urbanization, with about one billion people already crammed into what are euphemistically called “informal” settlements in and around cities, better known as slums, and 25 million more moving in each year. These communities are usually built on steep slopes, floodplains or other vulnerable spots. Another is ecological damage, like the loss of mangroves in Myanmar that appears to have allowed the flood surge there to propagate inland more readily. The report projects that human-caused climate change will progressively tip the odds toward more trouble. But it stresses that increasing resilience to disasters can help limit climate risks, as well, even as it reduces poverty and potentially boosts global security.
The 200-page report has a bounty of maps. Here's one of drought frequency:



And here's a detail from a map on fire danger:



There's lots more there, if browsing through UN-issued PDF reports is your kind of thing. They also have a mapping tool, with which you can zoom in on the risks for individual countries.

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