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Natural Disasters Up More Than 400 Percent in Two Decades

The number of natural disasters around the world has increased by more than four times in the last 20 years, according to a report released by the British charity Oxfam. It found that the earth is currently experiencing approximately 500 natural disasters per year, compared with 120 per year in the early 1980s. The number of weather-related disasters in 2006 was 240, compared with 60 in 1980. "We are talking about some VERY UNUSUAL floods in West Africa, VERY UNUSUAL floods in East Africa, EXTRAORDINARY floods in Mexico and parts of Central America, and heat waves in Greece [and] eastern Europe." At the same time, the number of geologically related natural disasters has held steady. Oxfam has attributed the increasing disaster rate to global warming. "This is no freak year. It follows a pattern of more frequent, more erratic, more unpredictable and more extreme weather events that are affecting more people." Between 1985 and 1994, Oxfam found that 174 million people were affected by disasters each year. In the following decade, this figure increased by 70 percent to 254 million people per year.

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