Floods and droughts

I continue the discussion on natural disasters using the handy graphing feature of the em-dat website of the UCL (Université Catholique de Louvain).

First the graph of floods (the left axis shows the yearly numbers):

em_dat_floods There clearly is a rise over the full time span; but also clear is that the period 2000-2014 has not seen a continuous increase, but more a slight rise and a return in 2014 below the 2000 situation.

If we look for the total number of deaths caused by these floods, there clearly is a case for optimism (left axis = deaths in thousands):

em_dat_floods_deaths

The post 2000 casualties are not higher than those of 1960, where the reported number of floods was much lower!

The droughts statistics show much more variability:

em_dat_droughts

Here one can not see a spectacular rise, but a lot of inter-annual variability. The exceptional high peak corresponds to 1981, the last maximum from the right to the year 2000. Since that year, the global number of droughts is decreasing (which does not signify that several regions, as parts of California, do not suffer from an ongoing severe drought).

The number of deaths are astonishing small, and show no tendency:

em_dat_droughts_deaths

What is the conclusion of this little exercise? It is not correct to state that natural catastrophes of floods and droughts are continuously increasing thanks to an ongoing global warming. This litany is dear to many environmentalists and politicians, whose agenda is impervious to real data.

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