The prolonged heatwave and floods in Kerala put India among the top five countries worst affected by climate change-induced extreme weather events in 2018. A new report by on Global Climate Risk by Germanwatch, an independent development organisation, has ranked India the fifth in the list of countries worst affected by climate disasters in 2018. The list is topped by Japan, the Philippines, and Germany.
As many as 2081 human lives were lost in these extreme events in India in 2018, the maximum for any country that year. Japan lost 1282 human lives while 1246 people died in Germany that year.
The Global Climate Risk Index ranks the most vulnerable countries while taking into account both the loss of human lives as well as economic losses caused by disasters. Last year, the same report had ranked India 14th on the list of most affected countries in 2017.
India’s economic losses in extreme weather events were in excess of US$ 37.8 billion.
This report attributes India’s higher rank in 2018 to the Kerala floods, cyclones on the east coast and the heatwave.
“The yearly monsoon season, lasting from June to September, severely affected India in 2018. The state of Kerala was especially impacted – 324 people died because of drowning or being buried in landslides set off by flooding, the worst in one hundred years. Over 220,000 people had to leave their homes, 20,000 houses and 80 dams were destroyed. The damage amounted to US 2.8 billion. Furthermore, India’s east coast was hit by the cyclones Titli and Gaja in October and November 2018. With wind speeds of up to 150 km per hour, cyclone Titli killed at least eight people and let around 450,000 without electricity,” the report says.
It goes on to note that heatwaves had become almost a permanent feature of Indian summer. “India suffered from one of the longest ever recorded heatwaves in 2018, with hundreds of deaths, when the temperature climbed to up to 48 degree Celsius. Prolonged drought and resultant widespread crop failures, compounded by a water shortage, brought about violent riots and increased migration,” it says.
“Since 2004, India has experienced 11 of its 15 warmest recorded years. Since 1992, an estimated 25,000 Indians have died as a result of heatwaves,” it says.