This article was originally published in The Citizen on 14 March 2022.
This increased frequency of natural disasters is set to overwhelm National Emergency Telecommunications Plans.
A new report has revealed that the annual number of natural disasters is set to increase by 37% (from 442 to 541 occurrences) by 2025 globally.
The details are contained in a report by Access Partnership and comes after organisations like the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, Vision of Humanity and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) all agree that weather-related disasters are likely to become more frequent and widespread in coming years, thanks to climate change.
The report titled Fair Tech Institute whitepaper also outlines the urgency with which governments and the private sector need to leverage satellite technology for more effective disaster management efforts in Africa and globally.
According to the whitepaper, this increased frequency of natural disasters is set to overwhelm National Emergency Telecommunications Plans (NETPs) and terrestrial service providers currently in place to minimise and mitigate the human and economic cost of adverse weather events.
More frequent weather related disasters due to climate change
The research also shows weather-related disasters including hurricanes, tropical storms, floods, wildfires, tornadoes and severe storms are likely to become more frequent and widespread in coming years, due to climate change.
This increased frequency of natural disasters, predominantly caused by climate change, is set to overwhelm the National Emergency Telecommunications and terrestrial service providers currently in place to minimise and mitigate the human and economic cost of adverse weather events.
Ivan Suarez, senior policy manager at Access Partnership said technology can play a huge role in saving the planet.
“Putting in place satellite services and next-generation satellite-enabled connectivity can mean the difference between saving millions of lives and losing them. This move can also reduce government expenditure during and post-disaster.
Suarez said providing unique data, the document forecasts the economic impact and future burden countries will face if disaster communications planning is not taken seriously.
“The impact of natural disasters will be concentrated among low- and middle-income countries, which are relatively less prepared to adapt. “
The paper also showed that natural disasters currently cost the agricultural sector of these economies more than USD $108 billion in damaged crop and livestock production.
Should the level of financing in climate adaptability remain low, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) estimates that climate change adaptation and natural disaster damages could cost developing countries a range of USD 280 billion to USD 500 billion per year by 2050.
However, it is these low to middle-income countries among others who are trying to make a difference to reduce the impact of climate-related disasters and climate change.
Pakistan has expedited its Ten Billion Tree Tsunami Project which is a consequence of global challenges and global warming.
The nation of more than 200 million people have begun one of the world’s largest reforestation programs.
Pakistan’s Climate Change Minister Malik Amin Aslam said the government is in the first phase of planting 3.25 billion trees at an estimated cost of around 105 billion rupees ($650 million).
Prime Minister Imran Khan wants to extend that to almost 10 billion by the time his term in office ends in 2023.
The aim of the project is to restore the climatic environment of Pakistan for future generations.
The project has made Pakistani’s aware of the need for plantation and why it should maintain a sustained momentum which has boosted the environment, created local jobs and income for the population of the country.
Another country that is also making a difference to the planet among other countries is the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The Kingdom announced a new initiative in a joint effort with Middle Eastern countries to protect the environment and combat climate change.
The Saudi Green Initiative and the Middle East Green Initiative expected aims to chart a path for the kingdom and the region in protecting the planet.
Both initiatives have ambitious goals including increasing the level of vegetation, reducing carbon emissions, combatting pollution and land degradation, launching the largest reforestation in the world and preserving marine life.
The Kingdom said the initiative creates a roadmap that rallies the region and significantly contributes to achieving global targets in confronting global change.
It said the effort will result in enhanced public health and raise the quality of life for citizens and residents in the region.
“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia recognises the importance of protecting the environment, combatting climate change and facing environmental challenges in the region which have clearly shown in high temperatures, low rainfall, high dust waves and desertification, creating an economic threat to the region.”
According to the whitepaper, to reduce the socioeconomic impact of climate-related disasters, governments are encouraged to increase investment in physical and social infrastructure and allow for the upscaling and acceleration of far-reaching, transformational adaptation strategies.
Suarez said this includes the effective use of satellite networks and next-generation satellite technology.
“As shown by this study, we need a concerted effort to fix the underlying inefficiencies of our current, existing communication systems. The paper highlights that the availability of communication networks is directly related to the ability to respond quickly to emergencies.”
The whitepaper emphasises the need for the development of emergency telecommunication plans (NETPs) given the crucial role telecoms can play in saving lives and protecting communities when disasters strike.
Considering their unpreparedness to bear the financial costs and the need to protect human lives, collaborative efforts between governments and the private sector are urgently needed to maintain adequate NETPs.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report in August 2021 showed that the immediate effects of global climate change are widespread, rapid and accelerating.
For cities in temperate latitudes, this means more heatwaves and shorter cold seasons while subtropical and tropical latitudes, it means wetter rainy seasons and hotter dry seasons.
Most coastal cities will be threatened by sea-level rise. Although most types of weather-related disasters are likely to become more common across all regions, global heating above 1.5C will be “catastrophic” for island nations and could lead to the loss of entire countries due to sea-level rise within the century.
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