Home Sciences 23% of the world’s population is at risk of extreme flooding

23% of the world’s population is at risk of extreme flooding


A world immersed in a climate crisis it is also a world increasingly exposed to extreme weather events. To events that once occurred every hundred years and that now, due to climatic chaos, have become most intense and frequent worldwide. Right now, according to a new study published in the journal ‘Nature Communications’, at least the 23% of the world’s population It’s in risk of extreme flooding. This equates to more than 1.81 billion people that, at some point in their lives, they may be impacted by extreme storms, torrential rains or the sudden rise of a river.

The regions most exposed to the risk of extreme flooding stand out, in turn, as some of the poorest on the planet. It is estimated that almost 90% of people at risk in the face of this type of climatic extremes reside in low and middle income countries. Southeast Asia stands out as one of the most vulnerable areas in the face of this type of catastrophe, especially in countries where a high population density coincides with high levels of poverty, as in the case of Indian and Chinese. This diagnosis, the experts argue, can also be transferred to large regions of the African continent as well as to the various countries of South America.

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You don’t have to look far to see the impact (and severity) of extreme flooding in these territories. China lives these days under the scourge of climatic extremes. While the north of the country is suffering from a heat wave so extreme that it even deforms roads, the south is experiencing the worst flooding in the last six decades. The authorities have activated the highest level of alert for the risk of flooding and landslides. The storm has destroyed almost 2,000 homes and more than 30 hectares of crops. The first balances point to half a million citizens affected by these extreme storms that, for the moment, continue their course.

risk of poverty

Extreme flooding already represents, today, one of the “climate hazards of greatest risk worldwide”. Every year, tens of millions of people are displaced from their homes due to the impact of these extreme weather events. Damages and losses caused by torrential rains and overflowing rivers add up to hundreds of billions of dollars per year. In the future, according to innumerable scientific reports, the progress of the climate crisis could exponentially multiply the impact of these phenomena extremes in all corners of the world.

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Beyond the immediate losses caused by extreme weather, experts argue, there is concern that these events will plunge affected regions into poverty. “Extreme flooding can affect long-term well-being and development of low-income regions”, states the latest diagnosis on the issue published this Tuesday in the magazine ‘Nature Communications’. The analysis, in fact, estimates that the risk of extreme flooding hangs over 780 million people who live with little more than five dollars up to date. That is, on the threshold of poverty.

The link between climatic extremes and social inequalities, experts argue, should be taken into account when designing mitigation and adaptation measures in the face of the climate crisis. “Investments must be prioritized in those critical points where the risk of flooding and poverty coincide”, points out the scientific team led by researcher Jun Rentschler. “Establishing these priorities could safeguard livelihoods for thousands of people and prevent adverse impacts on the development of these disadvantaged regions”, add the analysts.

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