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Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Red Cross World Disasters Report that you won't find at WUWT

Sou | 4:14 PM Go to the first of 2 comments. Add a comment

The Red Cross has released this year's edition of its annual publication, The World Disasters Report 2014. This year the focus is on culture and risk.

Table 10 of the report shows that in the past ten years, almost two million people have been affected by all disasters (technological and natural), with more than 95% of these people being affected by "climato-, hydro- and meteorological disasters". Of the people reported killed in disasters in the past decade (Table 6):

  • 329,000 (31%) died as a result of climato-, hydro- and meteorological disasters
  • 651,000 (61%) died as a result of earthquakes and tsunamis
  • 80,000 (8%) died as a result of technological disasters (eg industrial and transport accidents).

Eight hours ago, Anthony Watts wrote at WUWT (archived here):
The “World Disasters Report 2014″ of IFRC notices the lowest number of catastrophies in 10 years and 22,500 dead (average 100,000).
That is the exact contrary to what the climatariat says. I have not yet found an article in English; a German version is here:

Anthony Watts doesn't link to the Red Cross Report

In addition to not saying what it is that the "climatariat" is supposed to have said, Anthony Watts' research skills are abysmal. It's very odd that Anthony Watts claimed that he couldn't find any article in English. There were plenty of articles about the report at the time he wrote his article, for example this ABC article from three days ago.

Anthony also didn't post any link to the report itself. He quoted from last year's 2013 report, not the recent 2014 report. He quoted:
The World Disasters Report 2013 examines the profound impact of technological innovations on humanitarian action, how humanitarians employ technology in new and creative ways, and what risks and opportunities may emerge as a result of technological innovations.
The responsible use of technology offers concrete ways to make humanitarian assistance more effective, efficient and accountable and can, in turn, directly reduce vulnerability and strengthen resilience. Finding ways for advances in technology to serve the most vulnerable is a moral imperative; a responsibility, not a choice.

He could have quoted from the 2014 report, which was only embargoed until one minute past midnight GMT on Thursday 16 October - more than three days ago.

Their culture leads them to deny that climate change is happening...

Actually, I'm a bit surprised that WUWT is promoting this report as being the ant's pants. Here is a quote from page 11 of the report (my emphasis):
Around the world, a majority of people are likely to have at least a partial perception and response to risk that is based on their culture. In Miami, three senior politicians refuse to take action to protect the city from storms and sea-level rise because their culture leads them to deny that climate change is happening (McKie, 2014). The British prime minister appointed Owen Paterson, a climate change 'denier', as environment minister from 2012 to 2014 (Carrington, 2014) demonstrating a culture embedded in power that refuses to accept scientific evidence. This mix of cultural perceptions of risk from many different countries shows that there is no simple division between a rational scientific 'western' outlook and 'strange' beliefs in other parts of the world.

Looking at the numbers

Getting back to the WUWT article and Anthony Watts' attempt to claim something or the other, the Annex to the report has all the numbers.

All disasters

Table 1 shows that the total number of reported disasters, by continent, level of human development and year (2004-2013). At 529 reported disasters, the table lists 2013 has having had the least number in total for the period. This includes natural disasters as well as technological disasters.

When it's broken down by level of human development, at 120 reported disasters, 2013 had the second highest number for the ten year period in areas of very high human development; equal to 2004 and exceeded only by 2005 (139). This might explain in part why there were almost twice as many people killed in 2013, compared to 2012, despite there being slightly fewer reported disasters in total.

The numbers tell a mixed story. Given the nature of disasters some years are much, much worse than others. For example, the massive tsunami in 2004 is reported as having killed up to 230,000 or more people. In 2005 there were multiple major natural disasters, including the Kashmir earthquake (~100,000 killed), and Hurricane Katrina,

Table 5 of the Annex lists the total number of reported disasters by type of phenomenon for each of the last ten years. From that table, it's clear that the total reported disasters referred to above, includes natural as well as technological disasters (industrial accidents, transport accidents etc).

2013 third worst in the decade for climato-, hydro-, and meteorological disasters

Table 6 is the one that lists the number of people reported killed by type of phenomenon. I've plotted the total numbers reported killed from "climato-, hydro-, and meteorological disasters". Click to enlarge and see the numbers for each year.

Data source: World Disaster Report 2014 (Red Cross)

Windstorms, heat waves and floods took their toll in the past decade

The worst year by a very long way was 2008, with almost 150,000 people killed including 140,985 by windstorms. This was mostly from Cyclone Nargis, which devastated Myanmar. The second highest year for weather-related fatalities was 2010 with almost 71,000 people killed, including 57,064 by extreme temperatures. Last year came a long way behind, but was still the third worst of the last ten years at 21,286 people reported killed, including 9,819 by floods - the worst in the decade as far as flood fatalities go.

Estimated cost of disasters

Table 8 of the report shows that 2013 was the sixth worst year of the decade in terms of estimated damage, in US dollars, in regard to weather-related disasters (climato-, hydro- and meteorological disasters). Note the chart title should read Estimated Damage ($US million):

Data source: World Disaster Report 2014 (Red Cross)

WUWT downplays disasters to appease the fears of climate scaredy cats

If you relied on WUWT for your news about natural disasters, you'd think that there was "nothing to worry about". WUWT touts itself as the placebo for fear when it comes to climate change. Anthony Watts wrote:
Alexej Buergin writes in WUWT Tips and Notes about a report from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) that puts climate alarmism’s claims of increased natural disasters in perspective:

And he quotes from some website or other:
The number of natural disasters in the past year was the lowest for ten years, not more. The proceeds from the “World Disasters Report 2014″ produced by the Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) published in Geneva on Thursday. Accordingly, last year 337 natural disasters were recorded, almost half of the peak level 2005 The death toll stood at 22,452, well below the average for the decade of 97,954 victims.

Let's compare with the information in Table 5 of the Red Cross report:
  • The total number of reported natural disasters last year was the lowest for the decade, 337 as quoted. This includes geophysical disasters such as earthquakes and tsunamis as well as climato-, hydro-, and meteorological disasters such as droughts, heat waves and cyclones.
  • In 2005, the total number of natural disasters reported was 439, which means last year had 77% of the number reported for 2005. Anthony's website was wrong in this case.
  • The total death toll reported for 2013 was 22,452, which was well below the average for the decade. The average included geophysical disasters, tsunamis and earthquakes killing more than 200,000 people in each of 2004 and 2010. 
  • However, as you can see from the chart above, the total death toll just for climato-, hydro- and meteorological disasters last year was the third highest in the ten year period, at 21,286.  

The evidence shows weather-related disasters are increasing

Contrast this with what the Red Cross reported. And contrast it with the latest report from Munich Re on TOPICS GEO: Natural catastrophes 2013. (Click to enlarge):

Source: Munich Re

Red is for geophysical events. All the other colours are for weather-related events - meteorological, hydrological and climatological. You can see that the number of loss events continues to rise each decade.

Do you want facts or WUWT fiction?

All I can say is that if you want to put your head in the sand and pretend that climate change isn't happening, then by all means restrict your reading to anti-science blogs aimed wholly and solely at scaredy cats, like WUWT. If you want to face the world with your eyes wide open, then read widely. Don't avoid news just because you find it unpleasant. And check sources. Don't take anything on trust. Not HotWhopper or WUWT or the Red Cross or Munich Re. There are ways to confirm or refute what you read.

You can bet a website is untrustworthy if, like WUWT, it:
  • avoids giving a link to the article it's supposedly about
  • tries to downplay or distort information
  • builds strawmen, exaggerating what the science says so as to refute it.

From the WUWT comments

No-one commented, at the time of writing, that Anthony Watts didn't link to the report he was writing about. And most took his article on trust. In fact most read more into it than was written at WUWT. Idiots!

Jeff D.  
October 18, 2014 at 12:00 pm
Guess these guys didn’t get the memo to inflate the numbers……

Newly Retired Engineer is incapable of doing his own research and asks to be spoonfed:
October 18, 2014 at 12:16 pm
That is for one year. Do they also provide decade or longer data that would show a trend?

October 18, 2014 at 12:34 pm
Honestly, screw the warmists. This is good news, period.

Jon Jermey
October 18, 2014 at 1:07 pm
Two words. Mobile phones. When someone out at sea or halfway up a volcano can ring home and say “Hey, guys, better get out, there’s some serious shit happen—” it’s inevitable that the death rate will drop enormously.

Mark and two Cats doesn't realise that Ebola is already a virus
October 18, 2014 at 1:45 pm
Unhappy news for the malthusian warmunists, but they can pin their hopes on ebola going viral.

wayne  - I don't know what he is talking about. In terms of deaths, 2010 was the worst year for all natural disasters and for weather-related disasters according to the Red Cross report. And in terms of the number of discrete events, 2007 was the worst year for all disasters (and meteorological events) according to Munich Re.
October 18, 2014 at 2:25 pm
So curious that disasters peaked in 2005. That is the same peak you see in the temperature graphs if you first remove all of the adjustments and use a centering method smooth and to preserve the extremity’s placement in time. I did that to HadCRUT4 and yep, top in 2005.
But low extremes in temperatures also have a history of having terrible disasters. Wonder if this tends to occur following the 30 year ups and downs with the middles inbetween relatively tame?

World Disasters Report Focus on Culture and Risk, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, 2014. (Link to report).


  1. 10 years of data of a variable that is loosely related to climate.

    The ideal dataset for WUWT & Co.

  2. The previous is recruiting, sales, phishing, or spam. Avoid it.


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