In 1970, the world recorded 78 major natural disasters, which affected about 80 million people and inflicted roughly $10 billion in economic damage. By 2004, the number of major disasters worldwide had climbed to 384, claiming 200 million victims. The economic cost jumped five-fold, to $50 billion. The final numbers for 2005 will be even worse.
One reason for the enormous growth in disasters is that many of the catastrophes that are now well documented would have gone unrecorded in the past. But, even when one accounts for earlier underreporting, the number of floods, hurricanes, typhoons, mudslides, and other natural disasters has grown exponentially in the past three decades. Worse, the disasters now regularly claim more victims and cost more to clean up than they did a generation ago...