Now that 2008 is behind us and in the books, maybe we should all take a minute to thank the Creator for another year because if you’re reading this, you’ve obviously survived disease, famine, war, crime, Alberta’s highways and a host of other nasty things.
Unfortunately for 220,000 people around the globe however, the same cannot be said. Mind you, they all survived disease, famine, war, crime and Alberta’s highways too, but sadly for them, they could not survive Mother Nature.
In what experts describe as “one of the most devastating years on record,” Big Mama flexed her massive muscles throughout 2008 and made it very clear to all of humanity that she is not to be messed with – or in other words; the time has come for us to start cleaning up our acts, and the planet as well.
While the number of natural disasters was lower than in 2007, the catastrophes that occurred proved to be much more destructive in terms of the number of victims and the financial cost of the damage caused, according to the Germany-based Munich Re Institute.
Topping the list as the most devastating in terms of human fatalities was Cyclone Nargis, which lashed Myanmar on May 2-3 killing more than 135,000 people and leaving more than one million people homeless.
Just a few days later, an earthquake shook the Sichuan province of China that left 70,000 dead, 18,000 missing and almost five million homeless according to official figures. If that wasn’t bad enough, the earthquake came in as the most expensive overall single catastrophe of 2008, causing around $85 billion worth of damage, helping to make the year the third most expensive on record.
Other notable natural disasters in 2008 included more than 1,000 deaths attributed to a severe cold snap in January in Afghanistan, Kyrgystan and Tajikistan, while extensive floods in India, Nepal and Bangladesh in August and September killed 635 people.
* Typhoon Fengshen killed 557 people in China and the Philippines in June, while earthquakes in Pakistan in October left 300 dead.
* Six tropical cyclones also slammed into the southern United States, including Ike, which amounted to damages in excess of $10 billion.
* In Europe, an intense low-pressure system called Emma caused $2 billion worth of damage in March; while a storm dubbed Hilal in late May and early June left $ 1.1 billion worth of damage.
With an estimated $200 billion worth of damage worldwide in 2008, only 2005, when a large number of hurricanes slammed into the southern United States, and 1995, the year of the Kobe earthquake in Japan, wreaked more destruction since records began in 1900 and that includes the tsunami that hit southeast Asia just after Christmas in 2004.
According to provisional estimates from the World Meteorological Organization, 2008 was the tenth warmest year since the beginning of routine temperature recording and the eighth warmest ever in the northern hemisphere meaning that the 10 warmest years ever recorded in history have all occurred in the last 12 years.
Apparently, nobody bothered to check out the situation this winter in central Alberta! Speaking of which, have you noticed that most of those scientific types who predict doom and gloom from global warming, all live in places like California, the Caribbean of the Mediterranean?
How come you rarely hear the same talk coming out of the University of Alberta or the University of Saskatchewan, or even Tuk U? No really, there actually is a Tuk U; it’s the University of Tuktoyaktuk way up there on the Arctic Ocean, but we’re getting a bit off-topic.
“It is now very probable that the progressive warming of the atmosphere is due to the greenhouse gases emitted by human activity,” Munich Re said of the findings. “The weather machine is running in top gear, bringing more intense severe weather events.”
The number of tropical cyclones in the North Atlantic in 2008 was much higher than the long-term average, and in terms of both the total number of storms and the number of major hurricanes, 2008 was the fourth most severe hurricane season since reliable data has been recorded.
Either way, here’s wishing you all have a prosperous and Happy New Year and that we’re all around in 12 months from now to further discuss Big Mama’s muscle, that she hopefully doesn’t flex on any of us, unless, of course, it involves a bit of a warming trend.