GREEN scientists have been accused of overstating the dangers of climate change by researchers who found that the number of people killed each year by weather-related disasters is falling.
Their report suggests that a central plank in the global warming argument – that it will result in a big increase in deaths from weather-related disasters – is undermined by the facts. It shows deaths in such disasters peaked in the 1920s and have been declining ever since.
Average annual deaths from weather-related events in the period 1990-2006 – considered by scientists to be when global warming has been most intense – were down by 87% on the 1900-89 average. The mortality rate from catastrophes, measured in deaths per million people, dropped by 93%.
The report by the Civil Society Coalition on Climate Change, a grouping of 41 mainly free-market bodies, comes on the eve of an international meeting on climate change in Bali.
Indur Goklany, a US-based expert on weather-related catastrophes, charted global deaths through the 20th century from “extreme” weather events.
Compared with the peak rate of deaths from weather-related events in the 1920s of nearly 500,000 a year, the death toll during the period 2000-06 averaged 19,900. “The United Nations has got the issues and their relative importance backward,” Goklany said.
The number of deaths had fallen sharply because of better warning systems, improved flood defences and other measures. Poor countries remained most vulnerable.