The past year has been one of the most devastating ever in terms of natural disasters according to insurance company Munich Re’s annual assessment.
The company suggested climate change was boosting the destructive power of disasters like hurricanes and flooding. It has called for stricter curbs on emissions to prevent further uncontrollable weather scenarios.
The year 2008 is the third most expensive year on record, after 1995, when the Kobe earthquake struck Japan, and 2005, the year of Hurricane Katrina in the US.
Munich Re quoted World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) figures showing that 2008 was the 10th warmest year since reliable records began, meaning that the 10 warmest years on record all occurred in the past 12 years.
“It is now very probable that the progressive warming of the atmosphere is due to the greenhouse gases emitted by human activity,” said Prof Peter Hoppe, head of Munich Re’s Geo Risks Research.
“The logic is clear: when temperatures increase there is more evaporation and the atmosphere has a greater capacity to absorb water vapour, with the result that its energy content is higher.
“The weather machine runs into top gear, bringing more intense severe weather events with corresponding effects in terms of losses.”
The company said world leaders must put in place “effective and binding rules on CO2 emissions” to curb climate change and ensure that “future generations do not have to live with weather scenarios that are difficult to control”.
“If we delay too long, it will be very costly for future generations,” said Mr Jeworrek.