Climate change has driven a dramatic increase in extreme weather events over the past 20 years, and will continue to exact enormous human and economic harms in the future, the United Nations found.
Climate change, caused by burning fossil fuels, increases global temperatures which, among other things, supercharges heat waves, droughts, wildfires, hurricanes, and other storms. There have been 7,348 major disasters since 2000, claiming 1.23 million lives, affecting 4.2 billion people and costing $2.97 trillion in economic damages, according to the report. Disasters caused by extreme weather accounted for 6,681 of those events, nearly double the number of extreme weather disasters recorded in the previous 20 years.
“We are willfully destructive. That is the only conclusion one can come to,” Mami Mizutori, the U.N. Secretary-General’s special representative for disaster risk reduction, told reporters.