Natural Disasters in 2020

COVID-19 has affected every nation. As of June 2020, more than 31 million people have been infected, and around 975,000 have died. And with the infection rate growing exponentially, we can not stop and remember that natural disasters and other crises will continue to occur. 

There have been at least 207 recorded natural disasters in the first six months of 2020. This number has tripled from thirty years ago, and climate change causes this higher natural disaster rate. While climate change has been listed as a significant cause, cities’ growth and their inevitable spread into nature have also influenced the impact of natural disasters.

Floods, hurricanes, fires, and other natural disasters threaten more than 160 million people a year. And the severity of extreme weather events will only continue to increase in the coming decades. 

According to the AON Global Catastrophe Recap: First Half of 2020, the first six months of the year were marked by many small and medium-scale disasters that were impactful to many communities worldwide. They claimed roughly 2,200 lives during the first half of 2020. Flooding was the deadliest natural peril responsible for nearly 60 percent of the toll, with the Asia-Pacific region recording the highest death toll. 

And 2nd half of 2020 shows no slowing down. California wildfires recently turned the West Coast into a hazy orange hellscape, scorching a record-breaking amount of land in California and blanketing the whole region with lung-clogging smoke. According to The Economist, more than 7,600 fires had burned over 2.5m acres (1m hectares) of land and the season still has months to run. 

The current state of floods and monsoon season has been affecting many across the world. In South Korea, the monsoon season’s length has broken all the records, and both China and Japan have experienced heavy rains this year that have triggered flooding crises. Heavy rainfall in Sudan has exceeded the records set during the years 1946 and 1988, and the country declared a three-month state of emergency.

Atlantic hurricane season has started in June, and it has featured 24 tropical or subtropical cyclones, 23 named storms with two major hurricanes. Simultaneously, the Pacific typhoon season has slowly been dying out with 16 tropical cyclones and 12 named storms forming since May 8.

All of this paints 2020 as a rather grim year with people preparing and fighting the climate crisis, without having a chance to forget about the raging pandemic at their doorstep. With the World Health Organization listing more than 300 vaccine candidates and nine have entered the Phase 3 trials, some optimism seems permissible.