Disasters Are Coming And Earth’s Cities Are ‘Woefully Unprepared’ [Report]

Flood in York, England

The World Bank claims that cities around the world are “woefully unprepared” for the many disasters that face planet Earth. What’s more, officials warn that such disasters are increasingly likely to befall humanity in the near future, according to Daily Mail.

Researchers say that we are failing to plan for fast-increasing risks from a variety of hazards, such as extreme weather. Population growth and growth in migration mean that more people will find themselves in the path of those threats, World Bank officials allege.

By 2050, 1.3 billion people and $158 trillion in assets will be menaced by worsening river and coastal floods alone

John Roome, the World Bank Group’s senior director for climate change, told reporters that we are “woefully unprepared” for many disasters.

“Cities and coastal areas are woefully unprepared for the kind of climate and disaster risk now facing our world… Increasingly, populations are also moving into urban areas and along the coast, making them vulnerable to natural hazards.

Roome and his Wold Bank colleagues urged city planners to act now. Roome said that, as cities expand and revamp, they have the opportunity to lower the many risks that face us.

Roome suggested putting in place more resilient infrastructure and preventative policies.

Some more specific suggestion included placing restrictions on using too much groundwater, planning for more green space, and setting new schools and apartments far above flood-prone zones. Officials pointed out that excessive groundwater use is one of the reasons cities like Tokyo to Jakarta are currently “sinking.”

The problem is that many city officials have no clear idea of the range of disaster risks they face and how serious they could be. Argentina, for instance, has no volcanoes but is affected at times by ash from eruptions in Chile.

Meanwhile, the Huffington Post has provided a figure for the cost of natural disasters worldwide.

Natural disasters currently cost $40 billion per year, according to the World Bank. This is up from $14 billion just three decades ago.

The figure accounts for the total cost of destructive storms, floods, and droughts. Officials warn that it is set to increase further.

By 2070, the value of property destroyed by catastrophic weather could rise from $6 billion to $1 trillion in the 136 coastal cities studied. The number of people at risk from flooding, globally, is expected to grow from 992 million to 1.3 billion over the next 35 years, according to the World Bank report.

The Guardian notes that the report was funded by a World Bank-run body focused on disaster mitigation.

Researchers emphasized the impact of climate change. The report cited climate change as a major contributor to the hazards. Officials claim that exposure to hazard is increasing because more people are living in hazardous areas. What’s more, vulnerability is on the rise because of poorly planned and badly designed housing.

“With climate change and rising numbers of people in urban areas rapidly driving up future risks, there’s a real danger the world is woefully unprepared for what lies ahead…Unless we change our approach to future planning for cities and coastal areas that takes into account potential disasters, we run the real risk of locking in decisions that will lead to drastic increases in future losses.”

The impact of climate change will be felt in a number of ways, according to the report. As weather becomes more extreme, factors like food insecurity — caused in part by climate change — will limit the ability of vulnerable populations to prepare for floods, storms, and other disasters and to bounce back from such disasters.

Governments are taking the World Bank’s statements seriously. In 2015, the Paris Climate Agreement was signed by 196 countries.

The agreement requires participants to cut their greenhouse gas emissions. Its stated goal is to keep planetary warming at a level of two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

The agreement also requires countries to spend a combined $100 billion each year on projects that will help them adapt to climate change, beginning in 2020.

[Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images]