Aggressive climate action now could keep 1.8 billion people safe from the future ravages of tropical hurricanes, says a new study from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.
Just published in the journal Nature Climate Change, the study “combines global projections for future storm increases with those for population growth,” reports The Independent.
The human population is expected to continue to increase out to 2050, with growth concentrated in East Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. That means millions more people stand to be exposed to increasingly destructive hurricanes, typhoons, and cyclones should countries fail to meet the Paris Agreement target of limiting average global heating to 1.5°C.
And storms are getting stronger, notes The Independent, citing a 2020 study finding that “major tropical cyclones have become 15% more likely over the past four decades,” as well as a 2021 study finding that “global heating is causing hurricanes to stay at their most destructive level for longer.”
And, so far, climate action is falling bitterly short of what is needed. Current estimates show that the global climate is on track to reach 3°C of warming by 2100.
Lead author Tobias Geiger, a climate scientist at the Potsdam Institute, stressed the demographic reality that, as the global population is expected to decline after 2050, rapid action to rein in warming now willsave lives.
“If the world reaches 2°C in 2050, there will be 40% more people exposed than if the world reaches that same warming level in 2100,” he said.