Climate change linked to 21,000 deaths in nine months

Jeremy Hance
November 30, 2010

Extreme weather events linked to climate change has caused the deaths of 21,000 people worldwide in the first nine months of 2010, according to Oxfam. This is already twice the casualties of 2009. In a new report More than ever: climate talks that work for those that need them most, the organization outlines the casualties of such weather-related disasters, for example devastating floods in Pakistan which killed 2,000 people and affected more than 20 million.

"This year has seen massive suffering and loss due to extreme weather disasters. This is likely to get worse as climate change tightens its grip. The human impacts of climate change in 2010 send a powerful reminder why progress in Cancun is more urgent than ever," report author Tim Gore said in a press release.

Officials from governments around the world are currently meeting in Cancun at this year's UN Climate Summit, however expectations are low for reaching an agreement.

Despite rising frustration with the international community's unwillingness to tackle climate change, Gore defends the UN as the best venue for such action: "[The UN] is the only forum where the world can decide on an effective global response to an unfolding global crisis. The UN process has helped to generate international pressure in the past few years. This has pushed countries to initiate their own domestic policy, set targets they otherwise would not have done, and start to address the adaptation needs of poor and vulnerable communities."

While a single weather event cannot be solely attributed to climate change, scientists have warned that a warming Earth will increase the number of severe weather occurrences and worsen the severity of such events. This year has produced a litany of severe weather-related events that were surprising in their ferocity: floods across the US, drought in the Amazon, monsoon rains in Southeast Asia, and a record-breaking heatwave in Russia. Given such disasters, both scientists and government officials are becoming less reticent this year in making the connection between severe weather and climate change.

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Jeremy Hance
mongabay.com (November 30, 2010).

Climate change linked to 21,000 deaths in nine months.