Munich Re Survey Shows Natural Disasters Increase – Less Losses

December 29, 2000

Munich Re has released a survey of the natural disasters which occurred in the year 2000, citing over 850 worldwide catastrophes, 100 more than last year, but finds that the economic consequences were less, as many of them happened in sparsely populated areas.

“Economic losses came to more than US$30bn (previous year: US $100bn), with insured losses accounting for US$ 7.5bn (previous year: US$ 22 bn,” said the report. “The lack of major earthquakes and the moderate cyclone season combined with a general absence of losses in heavily populated areas made 2000 a comparatively inexpensive years as far as losses are concerned.”

Windstorms caused the most damages (73 percent of insured losses), followed by floods (23 percent), and as no major earthquakes occurred in populated areas last year, droughts and forest fires, particularly those that swept the Western U.S. last summer, contributed to the rest of the losses.

Munich Re warned that the lessening of losses this year doesn’t mean that the overall upward trend has reversed. “On account of the growth in the world’s population, which in the highly exposed areas of the world and in particular in the major conurbations is even increasing at an over-proportionate rate, and the rise in the concentration of property values, the losses generated by natural catastrophes must be expected to continue increasing in the future,” said the survey.

Dr.Gerhard Berz, Head of Munich Re’s Geoscience Research Group, stressed the seriousness of continued climate change in the increase in natural disaster, saying, “Global warming must be curbed at all cost.” He expressed hope that the forthcoming forecasts from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change would focus attention on increasing temperatures and rising sea levels, and that new attempts would be made in 2001 to reduce manmade pollutants which are a major cause of the problem.

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