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Climate change: a third of humanity lives without warning systems against extreme phenomena

One in three people lives in areas that do not have weather alert systems. With the increasingly extreme events brought by climate change, it is urgent to extend early warning mechanisms in the most disadvantaged areas, as warned by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in its report on the state of climate services.

According to the agency, the number of extreme events has increased fivefold in the last 50 years. They cause fewer fatalities, but increasingly cause material damage.

The latest example in Europe is the devastating squall Alex that swept through several pre-Alpine valleys in Southeastern France and Northwest Italy.

“Extreme weather and climate events have increased in frequency, intensity and severity as a result of climate change and disproportionately affect vulnerable communities,” says the WMO statement.

The report, published today on the occasion of World Risk Reduction Day, has been prepared by 16 meteorological agencies and institutions around the world, estimating that in 2018 some 108 million people needed humanitarian aid as a result of storms, floods, drought and indendios and warns that by 2030 this number could increase by 50% with costs of 20,000 million dollars (17,000 million euros).

To reduce the impact, the agencies advocate improving early warning systems “an evolution from” what the weather will be “to” what the weather will do “so that people and businesses can act in advance based on the warnings.

“Early Warning Systems (EWS) are a prerequisite for effective disaster risk reduction and adaptation to climate change. Being prepared and able to react at the right time and place can save many lives and protect the environment. livelihoods of communities around the world, “said the Secretary General of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), Professor Petteri Taalas in the presentation of the report.

The storms and floods, more and more frequent

The data presented show that storms and floods are by far the most devastating phenomenon (right graph) and frequent (left) and tend to multiply in recent years, due to climate change.

However, the graph in the center shows how the number of deaths from floods (blue) and storms (pink) is relatively limited in the last two decades, although deaths from extreme temperatures (yellow) are increasing.

The WMO recognizes that the COVID-19 crisis is a serious blow to the economy around the world, but also reminds that the climate crisis must not be ignored, it does not stop. It could also be an opportunity: “The recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic is an opportunity to move forward on a more sustainable path towards resilience and adaptation in light of anthropogenic climate change,” says Professor Taalas in the foreword to the report. .

The report presents details on 16 case studies, from floods to locust plagues, and makes recommendations on how to improve protection for the most vulnerable by creating a global “multi-hazard” alert system.

The report further denounces that, even when alerts occur, subsequent actions to protect the population are not sufficient. WMO urges authorities to ensure that early warnings, when they are lucky enough to have them, are increasingly translated into early action to save populations, anticipating the effects of extreme events.

As usual, the main problems are for developing countries.

The report ends with a series of recommendations

1. The investments they must fill the capacity gaps in developing countries, especially in Africa and Southeast Asia.

2. Early warning information should be translated into early measures

3. You need a sustainable financing to support the global monitoring and observation system

4. Do a more detailed follow-up of the financial flows to improve understanding of climate change and improve the effectiveness of investments in these systems.

5. Develop more consistency in monitoring and evaluating effectiveness early warning systems.

6. Fill in the data gaps on climate information, because there are still many unknowns.

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