Disasters cost $260 billion in 2022 as per a new report.
According to Swiss reinsurance company Swiss Re Institute, natural catastrophes cost the world $260 billion in losses in 2022. These disasters were deadly, too; thousands of lives were lost in floods, earthquakes, storms, and droughts. Climate change is accelerating humanitarian crises. A study pegs the number at 339.2 million—that’s how many people are in humanitarian need, but there’s a deficit of $27 billion in global financing to help them recover and rebuild.
Climate change was a big topic of discussion in 2022, and it will continue to be part of our reality. So while there’s a rewind tape of the year running right now, we’re looking at some of the worst disasters of 2022 that devastated lives and property.
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Floods in Pakistan
More than 1,700 people died in Pakistan this year. Heavy monsoon rainfall led to floods that were worsened by melting glaciers, and a third of the country was submerged. Thirty-three million people were affected, 2 million homes were destroyed, and more than 27,000 schools were damaged. It cost the economy $40 billion in damages. People are still displaced, and the economic recovery will take years.
Earthquake in Afghanistan
In Afghanistan, a 6.1-magnitude earthquake in June killed at least 1,000 people and injured 1,500. More than 10,000 homes were destroyed, leaving families homeless. Remote areas were unable to get help, and the response was slow. It was a brutal crisis for a country already stretched to its limit and fighting for resources.
The impoverished country sits on multiple fault lines and experiences earthquakes often (more than 7,000 people have died in a decade). However, it hasn’t been able to take measures for mitigation and protection.
The Taliban overthrew the government in August 2021, and the humanitarian crises were exacerbated as the country’s economy collapsed due to sanctions and loss of funding. Most severely impacted are children and women.
Earthquake in Indonesia
Another country that’s prone to earthquakes is Indonesia. It sits on the Ring of Fire, an arc of fault lines in the Pacific Basin and often tremors due to its geographical location. In November, a 5.6 magnitude earthquake shook up West Jawa’s Cianjur region and killed at least 310 people. Thousands were injured, and houses were reduced to rubble.
Earlier in February, a 6.2 magnitude quake killed at least two dozen people.
Hurricane in the U.S.
In the U.S., there have been 15 climate disasters this year (as of October) that have cost more than $1 billion. Hurricane Ian, which hit Florida and the Carolinas in September, was a Category 4 hurricane. It killed more than 100 people, caused floods, and disrupted power. According to reports, it was the second-most costly storm after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and cost $65 billion in damages.
Drought in East Africa
The Horn of Africa is parched. In East Africa, Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia are undergoing an unimaginable catastrophe. Twenty-two million people in the Horn of Africa are at risk of starvation. Four years of failed rainfalls have displaced a million people, killed livestock and damaged crops, and children are facing malnutrition and dying of hunger. Drought has wreaked havoc on these vulnerable countries, and 2 million children require urgent treatment for malnutrition. One person is dying every 48 seconds in these countries, according to an Oxfam report.
The U.N. highlights that climate change is responsible for these disasters. These African countries are the lowest emitters but some of the worst affected by it. Like Somalia, which is facing a famine when it adds just 0.01% to the world’s carbon emissions.
Flood in Nigeria
On the other side of Africa, Nigeria faced the worst seasonal floods in a decade in September-October. More than 600 lives were lost, and 1.5 million people were displaced. More than 200,000 houses were damaged, and flooding caused water-borne diseases, but people were forced to use the same flood water to survive. “More than 2.5 million people in Nigeria are in need of humanitarian assistance–60% of which are children–and are at increased risk of waterborne diseases, drowning and malnutrition due to the most severe flooding in the past decade,” a U.N. statement said.
A study revealed that floods were made 80 times more likely due to climate change. Nigeria is another country at extremely high-risk from the impacts of climate change.
Heatwave in Europe
Europe recorded the hottest summer in 2022. Records were broken in many countries as the temperature soared. The continent suffered the worst drought in 500 years, and a record 700,000 hectares were scorched due to wildfires. It is also reported that there were 20,000 excess deaths (the difference between recorded deaths and expected deaths based on past events) in the wildfires.
Heatwaves are also linked with climate change, and they will become more frequent and powerful as the global temperature soars. Europe is also warming up at twice the global average.
Floods in India
A report by Down To Earth revealed that India witnessed extreme weather events almost every day of 2022—241 of 273 days from January to September 2022. Hundreds died in Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Odisha, and Assam after torrential rainfall submerged villages and swept away houses.
In the neighboring countries of Nepal and Bangladesh, too, millions were impacted due to rainfall and flooding.
Flood in South Africa
KwaZulu-Natal was severely flooded in April. The province that is home to Durban saw more than 440 deaths and cost $1.57 billion in damages. The port of Durban also had to stop operations when shipping containers fell and blocked roads. A bridge near the city was submerged, which stranded people, and landslides and floods destroyed homes and left 40,000 homeless. A state of emergency was declared in the country, and it was one of the worst storms in South Africa.
It is now known that climate change made the rains heavier and twice as likely.