“Without adaptation, deaths caused by floods will increase globally by about 130% compared to 1976-2005 with a 2°C warming,” warns a draft report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) obtained by The Geneva Observer. The report won’t be officially released until next week, but it is currently being circulated among governments, and the findings contained in the draft won’t be significantly altered, with the panel stressing that its science-driven assessments are reliable.
Other predictions are equally dire should temperatures keep rising: “With a temperature change of 3°C, 170 million people may be affected by extreme droughts, which is more than 100 times more than the number of people affected by the worst historical droughts,” the experts warn, with dramatic human consequences in some parts of the globe: “Up to 112 million people in Mesoamerica, 28 million in Brazil, and up to 31 million in South America will suffer from water stress [under] a 2.7°C temperature increase.”
Cities on river deltas with high income inequality and large informal settlements, such as Bangkok, Jakarta, Dacca, or even New Orleans, are all at risk of devastating floods. Even with immediate actions, it is likely that major disasters will occur. The IPCC encourages governments to urgently invest in projects to adapt their cities and protect their populations:
“ADAPTATION MEASURES ARE PROJECTED TO BE INSUFFICIENT TO REDUCE THE IMPACT OF MAJOR FLOODS, EVEN IN HIGHLY ADAPTIVE REGIONS,” THE REPORT STATES.
One of the “biggest barriers to adaptation,” the report’s authors explain, is the fact that “most investments, even in climate action, don’t consider risk and costs. […] Most innovations in adaptation have occurred through social and ecological infrastructure (things like disaster risk management and social safety nets), but most financial investments are made strictly towards large-scale engineering projects. These include clear-cutting rainforests, which can lead to more damaging climate change.”
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change brings together the world’s leading scientists, to try to understand and guide public policy. In 2007, the group received the Nobel Peace Prize for its groundbreaking work on climate change.