CredCrunch Newsletter, Issue No. 24 - July 2011
Natural Disasters in Countries with Very High Human Development
Merely halfway through the year 2011, disaster figures continue to show the tremendous impacts that natural disasters have on human societies. The end of 2010 and the first months of 2011 were particularly marked by extreme events in several developed countries.
The Tohoku earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan on March 11th, 2011 caused over 28,000 deaths and had the highest earthquake mortality in Japan since 1923, only followed by the Kobe earthquake of 1995. The Kobe earthquake killed nearly 5,300 people and caused the largest economic losses, until 2011. Floods in Australia in December 2010 and January 2011 caused the highest damages (5.1 billion US$) in the country since 1981, when droughts cost 14.4 billion US$. The Christchurch earthquakes in 2010 and 2011 were among the most destructive disasters that New Zealand has ever experienced and multiple tornados in the United States in the spring of 2011 were the most severe in decades.
Data shows that natural disasters in Very High Human Development Countries (VHDC) have claimed more than 127,500 lives since 1990, affected over 59 million others and caused more than 1,543 billion US$ of damages.
The majority of deaths over the last decade in VHDC were due to the 2003 heat wave in Europe, which killed over 72,000 people, and the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in Japan. These contributed to mortality figures for 2001-20112 that are more than 8 times bigger than those seen during 1990-2000. Damages caused by disasters in VHDC during 2001-2011 increased by 52% compared to the 1990-2000 period.
This issue of the CRED CRUNCH focuses on natural disaster impacts in the highly developed countries. Based on scientifically-sound disaster statistics and studies, greater insight can be gained on the vulnerabilities of populations in VHDC to natural disasters, which in turn can be used to reduce and prevent future losses worldwide.