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Asia Minute: Regional Extreme Weather Events on the Rise

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There has been a dramatic increase in extreme weather events over the past twenty years. That’s according to the United Nations, which says the region hit hardest by these developments is Asia.

From floods and tropical storms to wildfires and drought, extreme weather events have been growing in number and intensity over the past two decades.

The United Nations just put out a new report on the topic — marking today as the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction.

The numbers are staggering – more than 7,300 major disaster events over that period, killing nearly 1.25 million people – affecting more than 4 billion more – with roughly 3-billion dollars in damages.

China has had the highest number of disasters over the past twenty years – followed by the United States, then India, the Philippines and Indonesia. According to UN figures, out of the top ten countries impacted by extreme weather events, eight of them are in Asia.

The number of major floods has more than doubled in the last two decades, and researchers say a growing number of people are being affected by what they call “the expanding climate emergency.”

One focus for the UN is increased early warning systems — as part of a broader strategy to reduce disaster risk.

Looking ahead, researchers say the biggest challenge in the next decade when it comes to extreme weather events will be heatwaves – especially in poor countries around the world.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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