‘This isn’t just luck’: why fewer people are dying as a result of natural disasters

Rewilding tasks and tech repairs are decreasing death rates from natural catastrophes, regardless of weather extremes becoming more common

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It didnt appear like a catastrophe zone. The scene was peaceful and calm: a boat was chugging down the river towards the Bay of Bengal. On one side, a broad stretch of pasture surrounded by a thick line of trees. On the other, more pasture, dotted with cows, and after that a high embankment, topped by a brick-lined path. Stashed behind it lay the village, its existence betrayed by smoke from the evenings cooking fires, and a towering cellphone mast. The only blot on the landscape was a rather incongruous concrete structure, increasing out of the fields..

These schemes are helping take in the storms rages. More 21st-century approaches play their part, too. Satellite and other forecasting technology has actually been utilized to provide much better cautions of a storms most likely speed, scale and path. The previously mentioned mobile phone mast is important to giving people early notification of a cyclones landfall through text. This enables them time to get to a cyclone shelter– that raised concrete blockhouse which had puzzled me when I d spotted it from the river. Put all of it together, and the result is the rather astonishing fall in death rates, regardless of the increased intensity of the storms.

Martin Wright is chair of Positive NewsMain image: Joe Desousa.

Bangladesh is bring back mangrove forests to secure its coasts from storms. Image: Joel Vodell.

Bangladeshs low-lying coastlands are acutely vulnerable to the destruction of tropical storms. Considering that then, the frequency and strength of such storms has actually increased, ominously in line with the forecasts of environment researchers.

When Cyclone Amphan– the greatest storm ever taped in the Bay of Bengal– came crashing onshore last May, the outlook seemed grim. Satellite and other forecasting innovation has actually been harnessed to give better warnings of a storms most likely speed, scale and path. Put it all together, and the outcome is the rather impressive fall in death rates, in spite of the increased seriousness of the storms.

The death rate from so-called natural catastrophes– whether truly natural, like earthquakes and volcanoes, or the surge in wildfires, storms and floods which are significantly linked to human influence– has fallen across the world, in spite of some regional increases.

Bangladesh isnt alone in this peaceful success. The death rate from so-called natural catastrophes– whether really natural, like earthquakes and volcanoes, or the rise in wildfires, storms and floods which are progressively linked to human influence– has fallen throughout the world, despite some local increases. In the 1920s it was around 26 per 100,000; now, by some estimates, its less than one..

Given that then, the frequency and intensity of such storms has increased, ominously in line with the forecasts of climate scientists.

Throughout the years, swathes of mangroves have been cleared– now the focus is on replanting.

And it certainly isnt because the catastrophes are getting less severe. Its due to the fact that a horrible lot of individuals are working all hours to assist us get better at preparing for such disasters, and making it through them alive.

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When Cyclone Amphan– the strongest storm ever recorded in the Bay of Bengal– came crashing onshore last May, the outlook appeared grim. Amphan definitely took its toll: hundreds of thousands of hectares of farmland flooded, millions of dollars of damage done to facilities, housing and fisheries. Individuals lost their lives, too– but the final death toll was just 118. Compare that to the death wreaked by Bhola, or by Cyclone Sidr in 2007, which eliminated around 3,500, and its clear that something remarkable has happened..

That something is a comprehensive, however largely unreported, programme of cyclone defences and early warnings, gradually introduced over the last few years by the Bangladeshi federal government, along with a large range of international organisations and NGOs..

Spring has sprung, therefore has the new concern of Positive News publication.

Some of that was noticeable from my journey down the river: those pastures act as a buffer for storm waters, slowing the flood before it reaches the embankment, which itself supplies further defense to the villages. There are the tree-belts, which likewise assist take in some of the waves force..

Mangroves, too, play their part. For many years, swathes of this natural flood defence have actually been cleared, and now the focus is on conservation and replanting, with 1,200 km of coastline and riverside mangrove belts being created across the south of the nation..

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