Edited by Sushil Vachani and Jawed Usmani
The frequency and scale of damage inflicted by climate-related disasters, such as floods, drought, heat waves and hurricanes, has been increasing at an alarming rate. As Margareta Wahlström, chief of the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, notes, 'Climate change is accelerating the pace and intensity of extreme weather events' (Wahlström 2012, p. 1), causing significant loss of life and economic damage (CRED 2013b). Asia bears a disproportionately large share of these losses and the brunt of the suffering is borne by the poorest people. Though earthquakes caused over half of the losses from natural disasters between 2002 and 2011, a significant share (31 percent of deaths and 42 percent of economic damage) resulted from climate-related disasters, creating a sense of urgency for adaptation to climate change (CRED 2013a). Fortunately, the world is finally recognizing the critical need for adaptation to climate change, which presents immense challenges for human health and livelihood, food and water security, biodiversity and preservation of cities. It is imperative that countries succeed in designing and implementing effective adaptation strategies because failure to do so will leave them at risk of great human suffering and enormous economic loss. Previously, supporters of mitigation feared that stressing adaptation would empower opponents of mitigation who argued that human ingenuity at adaptation would neutralize the threat of global warming.
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