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Climate change disaster is upon us, warns UN

Two girls rescue a dog in floods in Trinidad, Bolivia. Photograph: Aizar Raldes/AFP
In Photos: Extreme Global Weather

A Warning from th
e United Nations
World in Crisis Map (PDF Format)
A RECORD NUMBER of floods, droughts and storms around the world this year amount to a climate change "mega disaster", the United Nation's emergency relief coordinator has warned. "We are seeing the effects of climate change. Any year can be a freak but the pattern looks pretty clear to be honest. That's why we're trying ... to say, of course you've got to deal with mitigation of emissions, but this is here and now, this is with us already." The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has issued 13 emergency "flash" appeals so far this year. The number is three more than in 2005, which held the previous record. Two years ago only half the international disasters had anything to do with the climate; this year all but one of the 13 emergency appeals is climate-related. "And 2007 is not finished. We will certainly have more by the end of the year, I fear." The only one of this year's emergency appeals not connected to the climate was the earthquake in Peru, in August. The others arose after an UNPRECEDENTED STRING OF CATASTROPHIC FLOODS across much of Africa, south Asia and North Korea, and followed severe drought in southern Africa, Nicaragua's category-five hurricane, and extreme climate conditions in Bolivia, which brought both drought and floods. "You can't actually stop disasters happening but you can do a lot to reduce their impact and reduce people's vulnerability to them by making sure people don't live on the coast or river plains, and that roads are raised and dams are in reasonable shape
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