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Extreme weather deaths keep dropping.

Despite concerns about global warming and a large increase in the number of reported storms and droughts, the world's death rate from extreme weather events was lower from 2000-10 than it has been in any decade since 1900, according to a study by Reason Foundation, Los Angeles, Calif.

The report chronicles the number of worldwide deaths caused by extreme weather events between 1900-2010 and finds global deaths caused by extreme weather events peaked in the decade running from 1920-29, when there were 241 deaths a year per 1,000,000 people in the world. From 1930-39, there were 208. From 2000-10, however, there were 5.4, which is a 98% decline in the weather-related death rate since the 1920s. Extreme weather events were responsible for just 0.7% of the world's deaths between 2000-10.

The average number of extreme weather events recorded increased from 2.5 per year in the 1920s to 8.5 in the 1940s to 350 from 2000-10. The study notes technological and telecommunication advances made it significantly easier to learn of--and respond to--weather events. Broader news coverage and an increased tendency by authorities to declare natural disaster emergencies also have contributed to the large uptick in the number of storms recorded.

The extreme weather categories studied include droughts, floods, wildfires, storms (hurricanes, cyclones, tornadoes, typhoons, etc.) and extreme temperatures, both hot and cold.

Droughts were the most deadly extreme weather category between 1900-2010, responsible for more than 60% of extreme weather deaths during that time. Since the decade of 1920-29, the death rate has fallen by 99.9%. The study finds that global food production advancements, such as new crops, improved fertilizer, irrigation, and pesticides, along with society's better ability to move food and medical supplies, are responsible for reducing the number of deaths in times of severe drought.

Floods were to blame for 30% of the deaths during the time frame studied, making them the second most deadly category. The death rate for floods topped out in the 1930s at 204 deaths a year per 1,000,000 people. Deaths from floods have fallen by more than 98% since then and there was an average of approximately one flood death per year per 1,000,000 people from 2000-10.

Deaths from storms spiked as recently as the 1970s, when there were 10 deaths a year per 1,000,000, but the death rate has dropped by 75% since then, with storms being blamed for two deaths a year per 1,000,000 people from 2000-10.

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Title Annotation:YOUR LIFE
Publication:USA Today (Magazine)
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 2011
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