Ten Worst Storms of All TimeWith recent hurricanes Harvey and Irma severely hitting the United States and devastating the Caribbean, it is important to look to the past to identify trends in climate change, to verify tactics to protect ourselves from these natural disasters and to prepare for the future. The deadliness of these storms is determined primarily by the number of lives lost, but in some cases it is determined by the storm surge or the destruction caused.

These are the top ten worst storms of all time, number ten being the most deadly.

  1. In India, the Great Bombay Cyclone hit in 1882 and had a death toll of around 100,000 people. Historically, this region has had a lot of storm related natural disasters due to its proximity to large bodies of water, as well as the varying intensity of annual monsoons.
  2. Cyclone Nargis hit Myanmar in 2008, destroying homes, villages and medical centers. This was the worst storm to ever strike the area, taking an estimated 140,000 lives. The numbers are uncertain because the storm washed thousands out to sea who were never found.
  3. In 1991, Bangladesh faced Cyclone 02B that killed just under 140,000 individuals. These deaths were actually a result of the floods that the storm created, not the storm itself. Bangladesh, unfortunately, frequently experiences harsh storms and deadly flooding.
  4. Also in Bangladesh, the Chittagong Cyclone devastated parts of the nation in 1897. It had a death toll of around 175,000 and was incredibly destructive. However, due to its age, there are few specifics about the impact of the cyclone.
  5. The Great Backerganj Cyclone, which hit Bangladesh in 1876, killed close to 200,000 people. The storm hit the Meghna River and added approximately 12 meters of storm surge. As with most storms in Bangladesh, there was a large amount of flooding that followed.
  6. In 1975, China faced Typhoon Nina, which wouldn’t have been too deadly if the nation had been prepared. However, the impact of Typhoon Nina was multiplied by the poor infrastructure in a number of Chinese dams. Twelve dams broke, releasing massive amounts of water onto the streets of China and causing over $1.2 billion in damages. Because of China’s nondisclosure about the impact of the Typhoon, there is no accurate count of how many people were killed.
  7. The Coringa Cyclone, which hit India in 1839, took around 300,000 lives. The storm completely destroyed Coringa’s port and 20,000 vessels along with it. It created a storm surge of approximately 12 meters.
  8. In 1881, Haiphong, Vietnam was struck by a massive typhoon. This city was located at the mouth of a major river and was therefore helpless when the storm hit. The estimated casualties of the storm near 300,000.
  9. India and Bangladesh in 1737 faced a massive storm, but much of the data is unclear or unknown. The storm is sometimes referred to as the Hooghly River Cyclone. The estimate given by the Indian government is around 300,000 deaths, but many experts consider that number unreliable. Regardless of the death toll, however, this storm produced a storm surge of more than 12 meters and caused massive damage to Calcutta.
  10. Finally, the Boha Cyclone is number ten on the top ten worst storms of all time. It hit Bangladesh in 1970, taking 500,000 lives. The storm also massively impacted the fishing industry and produced a humanitarian crisis that ultimately took additional lives. This is the worst storm Bangladesh has ever faced and the worst the world has seen.

All of these storms were horrendous and involved staggering loss of life, and it is important to note that all of them occurred outside the United States. While storms have devastated parts of the U.S. this year and in the past, it should not be forgotten that other nations do need aid after suffering disasters just as, if not more, harmful than our own.

Liyanga De Silva

Photo: Pixabay

Countries Most Affected By HurricanesA tropical cyclone is a low-pressure weather phenomenon that can have surface winds of over 39 mph. When a storm has winds that get sustained over 74 mph, it becomes a hurricane. Hurricanes begin in the Atlantic basin and then less frequently in the central Pacific Ocean. These storms have devastating effects on the regions that they pass over and often destroy infrastructure and cause economic difficulties. Discussed below are the countries most affected by hurricanes and the damage they have endured.


Top 3 Countries Most Affected By Hurricanes



China is a country that suffers from hurricanes because its typhoon season lasts all year. The strongest recorded hurricane in China was named Typhoon Rammasun. It made landfall in Southern China and had winds of 160 mph when it hit the country in 2014. Since 1970, there have been over 127 hurricanes that have reached the mainland of China. They have caused significant damage to the country’s developing economy.

The United States

The United States has a hurricane season that lasts from June 1st to November 30th. The strongest hurricane that the U.S. has dealt with hit in 1935 and was called the Labor Day Hurricane. The storm had winds that reached about 185 mph and made landfall in the Florida Keys and the Florida Everglades. Since 1970, there have been 63 hurricane landfalls in the U.S. However, due to the United States’ strong economy and government support, there has been no lasting damage to the nation.


Cuba has a hurricane season that also extends between June 1st and November 30th. The strongest hurricane that hit the country took place in 1924 and was called the Cuba Hurricane. The hurricane had minds over 165 mph and mostly hit Western Cuba as it traveled up north towards the U.S. Cuba has had 79 recorded hurricane landfalls since 1970 and continues to deal with them to this day.


Working to Prevent Further Damage


As time and technology have progressed, there has been much progress in predicting hurricanes in the countries most affected by hurricanes. Meteorologists can now predict weather patterns before they occur, allowing governments the time to evacuate regions about to be hit by an intense storm.

On top of this ability to predict weather patterns, meteorologists now have figured out when recurring hurricanes are expected to hit regions of the world. This prediction allows more people to evacuate before the storm hits.

As technologies improve and weather can be predicted further in advance, the countries most affected by hurricanes now have the tools to deal with these intense storms. Although the weather cannot get changed with the current technology available, the countries most affected by hurricanes can now foresee when they are going to get struck by a storm. This ability to predict the future has the potential to save numerous lives.

Nick Beauchamp

Photo: Flickr

Climate Refugees: Island Nations to Find New Home

The Maldivian people could soon be forced into refugee status, not by an oppressive government or violence, but by such strong climate change that in its power, will create climate refugees.

The Asian Development Bank reported that the Maldives is “hardest hit by climate change,” even though it is one of the lowest CO2 emitting nations in the world.

At this moment, less ice covers the Arctic than at any other time in history and sea levels are rising at a steady rate. The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change assessed that the world is approaching 10-13 feet of sea level rise by the end of the century. At that kind of level, the Maldives would essentially disappear.

Sea level rise is not unforeseen. Since 1992 the world has seen an average increase of three inches in sea levels, with some areas experiencing up to nine inches. Those responsible have no excuse not to act.

Residents of the Maldive islands have started informal talks of mass migration of climate refugees to Australia, Sri Lanka and India. Additionally, the Maldives established a relocation fund to help its citizens buy land overseas as the government realized that the need to relocate will occur sooner rather than later.

The Maldives is not the only country seeking refuge in Australia. Tuvalu, located in Oceania, requested that Australia prepare for the arrival of 12,000 climate refugees from the island in the near future.

Some of Tuvalu’s people have already left the islands to seek stability elsewhere, making them climate refugees. The Maldives prepare to face this same future.

Already, many villages in the islands of Oceania have been destroyed by natural disasters, displacing communities and halting, sometimes ending, people’s lives.

Those forced to relocate are in danger of losing their national and cultural identities, and many of the Maldivian people want to stay. If those in power do nothing, many will lose their homes and be forced to relocate.

Ayah Alkhars

Photo: Flickr

While natural disasters always leave devastation in their paths, the recovery is always harder for the world’s poor. The countries with the most hurricanes are, in increasing order, Cuba, Madagascar, Vietnam, Taiwan, Australia, the U.S., Mexico, Japan, the Philippines and China.

The storms may be unbiased when they hit, but the work to recover is nowhere near equal. This is why it is detrimental that the countries with the most hurricanes are also those with the least amount of preparation for them. This is evident because of events such as Hurricane Matthew. Although it created damage to the southeastern portion of the U.S., the devastation in Haiti was unparalleled.

Between 1996 and 2015, more than a million people were killed by natural disasters. Ninety percent of the deaths occurred in low and medium income countries.

In countries such as the Philippines, which can expect between eight and nine hurricanes a year, the population isn’t prepared for the devastation these storms bring. The majority live in homes that are weakly constructed and do not stand a chance against nature’s wrath. With a population of 96 million, of whom 19.2 percent fall below the poverty line, it is impossible to recover from one storm before the next strikes.

Behind Mexico’s brightly decorated resorts and tourist destinations, there is a population of more than 40 percent living in poverty. Although preventive measures lessened the blow from Hurricane Patricia in 2015, the nation is still recovering from its wake.

Global organizations are quick to respond to disasters all over the world. The U.N. and the Red Cross work to have people on the ground in the affected country immediately.

UNICEF takes the preventative path to these problems and works with some of the countries with the most hurricanes to improve emergency response strategies and prepare them for the natural disasters that are sure to come.

The organization also works to develop indications for the decision-makers in the least developed countries to follow when assessing the needs of children during disasters.

Emily Trosclair

Photo: Flickr

Mozambique is one of the poorest countries on a global scale. The government estimates that 54 percent of its population lives below the poverty line. Hunger in Mozambique is widespread, as 80 percent of the population cannot afford enough food for good health and 24 percent are chronically food insecure. At least 25 percent of Mozambicans are malnourished, due in part, to poor crop diversity. Almost half of children under age five are malnourished, and 42 percent have stunted growth.

Mozambique’s primary industry is agriculture: it brings in over 25 percent of the nation’s GDP and employs 80 percent of the workforce. Yet, Mozambique is also prone to severe weather such as droughts and floods. With the majority of the nation dependent on agriculture and at risk for severe weather, Mozambique is highly susceptible to chronic food insecurity and poverty.

While parts of Mozambique are prone to drought, these regions also have rivers, leaving them prone to flooding during cyclone season. In fact, two-third of Mozambicans live in regions at risk of flooding and cyclones. Mozambique experienced floods in 2000, 2001, 2007 and 2008. The country had droughts between 2002-2003, 2004-2005, 2006-2007 and 2007-2008.

Drought caused by the 2016 El Niño weather pattern reduced crop yields and left two million Mozambicans suffering food insecurity. Shortly after, in February 2017, the country experienced a cyclone which also destroyed crops.

Feed the Future, an initiative funded by USAID is working to reduce hunger in Mozambique. The USAID website notes that Mozambique also has geographical advantages and great potential to increase agriculture while reducing food insecurity. The country is a coastal country, making it ideal for growing food and supplying landlocked African countries. Furthermore, only 17 percent of the suitable land is being used for farming.

The Feed the Future Initiative is taking advantage of this potential. Research is underway to improve agriculture. More nutritious and resilient crop varieties are being developed, as are plants which produce higher yields. Ideal fertilizers are being used along with better farming practices to improve soil quality.

Of the 15 countries in Southern Africa, Mozambique is the second largest exporter of food. As such, better farming practices can allow the citizens of Mozambique to rise out of poverty. Crop production is impaired by changes in climate. Yet, if Mozambique can overcome this obstacle, it can help reduce famine throughout Southern Africa. The outlook is good. Mozambique cut hunger in half between 1997 and 2015.

If the Feed the Future Initiative and other organizations can end hunger in Mozambique, then it can possibly end hunger in Southern Africa.

Mary Katherine Crowley

Photo: Flickr

Senate Appropriations Committee Pushes Through Action on Green Climate FundThe Green Climate Fund, an “operating entity of the financial mechanism” of the United Nation’s Framework for Climate Change Convention, is a critical component of the successful outcome of the Paris climate negotiations in December. Without it, an agreement is “impossible,” says French President Francois Hollande.

The fund, headquartered in South Korea, is essentially a financial intermediary between developed and developing nations. Developing nations — many of which stand to face harsher climate-related incidents — are not keen on signing a climate deal to cut emissions.

Their rationale is that economic development, which is badly needed, is difficult in the absence of hydrocarbons and abundant, cheap energy. A global deal on cutting emissions would hurt the poor countries more, which are the same countries that have historically contributed substantially less greenhouse gas emissions than the developed nations.

Instead, they are demanding reparations and assistance from developed countries in exchange for signing onto any binding climate deal. The money will go toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions in developing countries and helping them to build resilience to future climate shocks.

Some developed countries including the United States have, until recently, been balking at the idea of giving developing countries money for climate-related disasters and paying for them to reduce emissions. This stance has thwarted previous climate talks and threatens the COP21 negotiations.

However, the Senate Committee on State and Foreign Operations has pushed through action on funding for the Green Climate Fund. Although the legalese wording in the subcommittee document effectively blocked funding by requiring that a subsequent act of Congress was needed to approve funding, the wording was removed during the Full Committee Markup.

The bill includes an unidentified amount of “limited funding” for the Green Climate Fund. The president’s $500 million request represents one-hundredth of 1 percent of the federal budget. The United States is now one of more than 30 countries that have dedicated money to the Green Climate Fund.

John Wachter

Sources: Green Climate Fund, The Hill 1, The Hill 2, RFI, Sierra Club, United States Senate 1, United States Senate 2, United States Senate 3
Photo: Flickr

Countries should make carbon pricing the cornerstone of climate policy, said The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development on Oct. 10. Carbon markets are about 94 percent cheaper at cutting greenhouse gases than renewable subsidies paid to power producers, according to a new OECD.

OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria said that global energy systems need to transform if countries hope to limit climate change to the agreed-upon 2ºC temperature increase. Gurria urged for a coherent approach to carbon pricing, to facilitate the gradual phase-out of fossil fuel emissions.

“Whatever policy mix we put in place, it has to lead to the complete elimination of emissions to the atmosphere from fossil fuels in the second half of the century,” Gurría said. “We don’t need to see zero net emissions tomorrow, but we will need to be on the pathway.”

According to Bloomberg, the OECD said that countries need to assess the cost-effectiveness of their climate-protection plans, and take an inventory of policies that price carbon directly.

“What we are describing here is a growth story,” Gurria said. “Going down the high-carbon route will destroy growth.”

The OECD’s report said that governments need to “ensure that carbon pricing is sufficient to achieve climate goals and that other policies are well-aligned with these goals.”

According to Renew Economy, this 94 percent price cut is about 17 times cheaper than paying power generators renewable energy subsidies. The OECD conducted an analysis of 15 countries that showed once again that carbon markets have the power to fight climate change and fund clean energy.

The report analyzed the following countries:  Australia, Brazil, Chile, China, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, South Africa, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Renew Economy said this list “covers nearly every potential energy market” – there are countries on that list that have high renewables, are fossil fuel dependent, have developed economies, have struggling economies, as well as those with experience in the carbon market and those who are just beginning to learn.

The OECD said that reducing fossil fuel emissions isn’t enough. We must strive to eliminate them as completely as possible, Gurria said in a blog post on Oct. 9.

“Carbon dioxide is a long-lived gas: almost half the CO2 emitted this year will still be around 100 years from now,” Gurria said. “Carbon dioxide concentration, and its warming potential, will therefore increase over time, unless the rate of accumulation falls to zero.”

Renew Economy writer Silvio Marcacci said that carbon markets are “pouring money into energy efficiency, climate mitigation, and renewable energy products across the world.”

About 60 carbon pricing systems are currently being used or being developed.

– Alycia Rock

Sources: Clean Technica, OECD, Bloomberg, Renew Economy

The Butterfly Effect
Often, consumers in the developed world assume that the greatest impact they can have on developing countries is philanthropic: by choosing certain products, certain brands and certain charities, they can improve the lives of citizens far away. It is a widely held belief that the developed world’s major interaction with the developing is that of a benevolent elder sibling: offering advice and help when necessary, while also attending to their own, separate affairs.

A recent report by The Atlantic once again highlights how incorrect this idea is. Indeed, the activities of the first world often have profound consequences for the developing world as they bear the brunt of paying for the sins of those who are more advantaged.

From the 1960s to the 1980s, a famine devastated parts of northern Africa, leaving 100,000 dead and upward of 700,000 relying on foreign food aid for survival. Infamous across the world, photos of starving cattle marching across dusty plains and children with shriveled arms and distended bellies still remain burned in many minds. Initially, this was blamed on poor farming practices leading to desertification. New research by scientists, however, shows that the drought which caused the famine was triggered by the number of factory emissions from Western Europe and the United States of America. The release of sulfate aerosols, which cool the climate around them, disrupted rainfall patterns for decades until clean-air laws were passed in the industrialized countries.

It is an uncomfortable reality that the world is interconnected and that the decisions of one country will undoubtedly have ramifications for another. More than ever in today’s connected and globalized world, countries have to work in sincere cooperation, not just for individual benefit, but for the good of the international community.

The developed world, having such power, also carries an immense amount of responsibility in wielding it. To a large extent, it is failing at that responsibility: smartphones continue to fly off the shelves, despite the myriad controversies surrounding them, including Apple’s suicidal factory workers and the conflict minerals necessary for production. Fairtrade products are still pushing to be the norm, and clean energy bills struggle to be passed.

Too often, citizens rely on governments to take the initiative in social progress. As we continue to dive deeper and deeper into climate change and growing levels of inequality, however, the average citizen has to start harnessing their individual power. The old saying goes that a butterfly flapping its wings can cause a hurricane; while this may be an exaggeration, one must ask themselves what the potential impact of human life can be, even the most ordinary one, across the globe.

– Farahnaz Mohammed
Source: Science Daily,The Atlantic
Photo: The Guardian