2010 'exceptional year' for weather disasters: reinsurers
Catastrophic floods in Pakistan, wildfires in Russia, hurricanes in Mexico -- 2010 has so far been an "exceptional" year for weather-related disasters, German reinsurance giant Munich Re said Thursday.
"This year really has been a year of weather records," Peter Hoeppe, an expert from Munich Re's Geo Risks Research department, told reporters.
"The first nine months of the year have seen the highest number of weather-related events since Munich Re started keeping records," he added.
Hoeppe said that a clear pattern of continuing global warming was contributing to the natural disasters.
This year has so far been the warmest since measurements began 130 years ago, with new temperature records set in Russia (37.8 degrees centigrade) and in Asia (53.5 degrees in Pakistan).
Only last month, a new temperature record was set in Los Angeles, with the mercury hitting 45 degrees. "It is clear that global warming is getting worse," said Hoeppe.
He added that he did not expect much from the forthcoming climate summit in Cancun, following what he termed the "genuine catastrophe" of the last such summit in Copenhagen.
That meeting, in December, broke up acrimoniously amid bickering between developed and developing nations over who should bear the main burden to stop global warming.
"Our expectations are lower than they were one year ago in Copenhagen. In Copenhagen, there had been a commitment to success and there were over 100 heads of state. That simply won't be the case in Cancun," he said.
On the key issue of carbon dioxide (CO2) reduction, "there is no movement in the United States and as long as the United States doesn't move, then China will not be prepared to move and these are the two main players," he said.
The Cancun meeting, from November 29 to December 10, is meant to firm up a basic agenda for continuing talks on a new protocol to replace the Kyoto accord which expires in 2012.
Earlier Thursday, France's Academy of Science published a report written by 120 scientists from France and abroad stating that global warming was unquestionably due to human activity.
© 2010 AFP