Scientists have revealed the 20 countries with the highest number of towns and cities prone to life-threatening floods due to climate change.
Researchers are concerned that settlements are expanding into flood-risk areas rather than away from them, threatening lives in the near future.
The Netherlands tops their list, followed by Vietnam, the Southeast Asian country of Laos, Bangladesh and Fiji in the South Pacific Ocean.
But also in the top 20 are Japan, China, Switzerland, Croatia, Austria, Egypt and South and North Korea.
Although the UK is not on the new list, previous research has revealed that one in six English properties could be affected by flooding by 2050 amid rising sea levels.
Scientists have revealed the 20 countries with the highest number of settlements prone to life-threatening floods due to climate change.
Scientists today issued a serious warning: stop building houses in flood danger zones (areas prone to flooding due to climate change). In the photo, aerial view of the same place in Quảng Nam, Vietnam, in 2002 (left) and 2021 (right). Note the expansion of buildings, mostly homes, in flood-prone areas close to water.
The new study was led by Jun Rentschler, an economist at the World Bank, the global financial institution based in Washington, DC.
Flood exposure was found to be particularly high in countries where settlements are concentrated along valleys and river basins (such as Bhutan, Egypt and Bangladesh) and coastal areas (such as Fiji and Vietnam) or both (such as the Netherlands).
“Since 1985, human settlements around the world (from villages to megacities) have expanded continuously and rapidly to become today’s food zones,” Rentschler and his colleagues say in their study.
‘In many regions, growth in the most dangerous food zones is far outpacing growth in non-exposed zones, particularly in East Asia.
‘Rather than adapting their exposure to climate hazards, many countries are actively increasing it.
According to experts, there is “growing evidence” that climate change is increasing the likelihood of “extreme natural crises” such as floods.
Climate warming is due to the release of gases such as CO2 and methane into the atmosphere, which trap heat (known as the greenhouse effect).
Global warming is already melting ice in the polar regions, and this meltwater is entering the oceans, gradually causing sea level rise and severe flooding.
Warmer air can also hold more water, so rainfall is increasing on average around the world, increasing the threat of flooding, as recently seen in New York.
Scientists already believe that the people most at risk of death from rising sea levels are those living in coastal regions, which will be the first to be permanently underwater.
The Netherlands tops the list, followed by Vietnam, the North African country of Laos, Bangladesh and Fiji in the South Pacific Ocean.
Scientists blame increased heavy rainfall caused by climate change for recent flooding in the New York area (pictured). Warmer air can hold more water, which is why rainfall is increasing on average around the world, according to the Met Office.
READ MORE The Big Apple recorded the rainiest day in its history
Citywide flooding prompted Mayor Eric Adams and Governor Kathy Hochui to declare states of emergency that are still in effect Friday night.
For the study, the team combined data on global flood danger with annual “settlement footprint data” (showing where people live and work in towns and cities) from 1985 to 2015.
They found that the total extent of settlement in the world has increased by 85.4 percent during this 30-year period.
But settlements with “high flood risk exposure” – defined as areas at risk of flooding depths of more than 60 inches (150 cm) during once-in-100-year floods – grew by a staggering 105.8 percent. .
Meanwhile, the number of settlements exposed to the highest level of flood risk in the period increased by a worrying 121.6 percent.
Unfortunately, even in high-income countries like the Netherlands, many settlements are not protected against those once-in-100-year flood risks.
The story is much worse in low- and middle-income countries in the top 20, such as Laos and Vietnam, where funding is not available to build such defenses.
For example, in Laos and Vietnam there are many “highly exposed” settlements without strong protection systems.
Although the Netherlands tops the list in terms of settlements in danger zones, it is one of the few countries, along with Japan and the United States, that are investing heavily in protecting settlements that were already in high-risk flood zones. in 1985.
For example, Dutch authorities have installed sea walls (artificial structures designed to protect low-lying areas) to protect against storm surges.
Although the total extent of settlements in the world has increased by 85.4 percent, settlements at high risk of flooding have grown by 105.8 percent and those exposed to the highest level of flood risk by 121.6 percent. .
Pictured are new flood gates, part of a storm protection project, in a section of Middletown, New Jersey, that was hit hard by Superstorm Sandy in 2012.
Images of citizens dealing with floods are becoming the norm. In the photo, a flooded street in Lagos, Nigeria, in September 2023.
The researchers say their findings “have concrete implications for urban planners and policymakers” around the world, not just in the top 20 countries.
“In areas where flood exposure is already high, investments in disaster preparedness are crucial to mitigate losses,” they say.
‘In areas where flood exposure is still low but increasing rapidly, there is an urgent need to review land use and development plans, along with updating building codes and infrastructure master plans that take into account the risks.
“Although land scarcity and geographical limitations may mean that settlement in flood zones cannot always be avoided, flood protection systems and disaster preparedness measures can still support resilient socio-economic development.”
The study was published today in the journal Nature.
One billion people will die from climate change by 2100, study says
Scientists have given a terrifying prediction about the future of humanity on this planet.
According to Canadian experts, one One billion people (one-eighth of the world’s current population) will die from climate change if global warming reaches or exceeds 3.6°F (2°C) by 2100.
Most of those who die will be poorer human beings living in the developing world, they say, while those contributing to mass deaths will likely be top executives of multibillion-dollar oil and gas companies.
Deaths will occur from various catastrophes, including floods due to melting ice, forest fires, diseases, severe weather events such as droughts and much more.