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Interconnected Disaster Risks Report 2023
• The Interconnected Disaster Risks Report 2023 is a publication by the United Nations University – Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS). This report analyzes six interconnected risk tipping points, which represent immediate and increasing risks across the world.
• A risk tipping point is reached when the systems that we rely on for our lives and societies cannot buffer risks and stop functioning as we expect them to.
• Human activities such as land-use change, overexploitation, climate change, pollution, and the introduction of invasive species have accelerated species extinctions.
• More than 400 vertebrate species have gone extinct in the last 100 years and approximately one million plant and animal species are at risk of extinction.
• The disappearance of one species can trigger a cascade effect on dependent species and disrupt fragile ecosystems.
• Two billion people rely on aquifers as a primary source of freshwater, and 70% of this water is used for agriculture. However, 21 of the world’s 37 largest aquifers are depleting faster than they can be replenished for example, Saudi Arabia’s shift from wheat exporter to importer due to groundwater depletion.
• Satellite Vs Debris: There are 34,260 objects orbiting Earth, of which only around 25% are functional satellites. The remaining objects include space debris, such as broken satellites and discarded rocket stages. As these objects travel over 25,000 kilometres per hour, the smallest debris can cause significant damage, including collisions between functional satellites.
Mountain Glaciers Melting
• Due to global warming, glaciers are melting at double the speed compared to the past two decades, putting 1.9 billion people at risk. Between 2000 and 2019, glaciers lost 267 gigatons of ice per year, roughly equivalent to the mass of 46,500 Great Pyramids of Giza.
• The tipping point in this context is a so-called “wet-bulb temperature” exceeding 35°C, which combines temperature and humidity.
• The wet-bulb temperature is defined as the temperature of a parcel of air cooled to saturation (100% relative humidity) by the evaporation of water into it, with the latent heat supplied by the parcel.
• High humidity inhibits the evaporation of sweat, exacerbating the effects of heat and potentially causing organ failure and brain damage.
• Extreme heat was responsible for an average of 500,000 excess deaths annually in the last two decades.
• In 2022, global economic losses due to weather-related disasters amounted to $313 billion
• As extreme weather events become more destructive, insurance premiums have increased by as much as 57% since 2015.
• Insurers offer limited type of coverage, have frequently canceled policies or left the market as they themselves find it unsustainable.
• Over half a million Australian homes are expected to be uninsurable by 2030, primarily due to rising flood risk.
Recommendations of The Report:
• The Interconnected Disaster Risks Report 2023 proposes two categories for solutions: Avoid solutions, and Adapt solutions.
• Avoid solutions: Target root causes and drivers of risk to avoid risk tipping points altogether.
• Adapt solutions: Help prepare or better address the negative impacts of risk tipping points if they cannot be avoided.
• For example India’s membership of the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI), a global partnership to promote climate and disaster resilience of new and existing infrastructure systems, will help mainstream climate considerations into transport infrastructure development.
• The report highlights broad behavioral and societal shifts that can transform systems and reduce overall risk. It include a shift towards zero waste, a stronger connection to nature, global cooperation and trust, consideration for future generations, and transitioning to an economic model focused on human well-being within planetary boundaries.