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Climate change kills

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Issue 1678

30,000 dead in Venezuela

Climate change kills

STORMS AND gales wreaked devastation in Latin America and Europe at the end of 1999. Floods in Venezuela killed up to 30,000 people and made over 200,000 homeless. In France over 80 people were killed as gales ripped through the country. These disasters are not “natural”. They are the direct result of the way the global system is destroying the environment. In particular global warming, caused by soaring carbon dioxide emissions pumped out by the world’s giant firms, is having a devastating effect on weather conditions.

The two chief meteorologists in Britain and the US issued a joint statement just before Christmas. They attacked governments and businesses for saying that global warming is exaggerated. The two scientists say that studies of global temperatures “confirm that our climate is now changing rapidly. “The rapid rate of warming since 1976, approximately 0.2 degrees per decade, is consistent with the projected rate of warming based on human-induced effects.”

The Red Cross calculates that 57,513 people died and 335 million people lost their homes in 1998 because of climate related disasters. Peter Walker of the Red Cross says that the figures for 1999 could be even worse.

In 1999 there were over 75 major disasters, including earthquakes in Turkey and Taiwan, the Orissa cyclone in India, avalanches in France and Austria and hurricanes in the US. It is the poorest in the world who suffer the most. Millions are forced to live in makeshift shanty towns and some 500 million people now live within range of potential volcanic eruptions.

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