Asian countries have flourished in the early 21st century, but their rise may be prevented by a series of natural disasters caused by climate change.
After experiencing the prosperity of Europe in the 19th century and the global influence of the United States in the 20th century, the rise of Asia in the 21st century is more and more mentioned, which is regarded as the “Asian Century”.
Asia has more than half of the world’s population, rising from a low-income status to a middle-income status within a generation. Experts predict that by 2040, Asia is likely to generate more than 50% of global GDP, accounting for nearly 40% of global consumption.
However, at the beginning of the “Asian Century”, mankind is facing unprecedented challenges of climate change. Disasters caused by sea level rise and extreme weather pose a serious threat to Asian islands, coastal cities and tropical regions. Rising global temperatures also pose risks to food security, life expectancy and national economies.
In the past 20 years, Asia has experienced more climate disasters than in the last century. Scientists say this trend is related to global warming.
This proportion has increased rapidly since World War II, when economic and industrial activities were booming. According to data from the World Meteorological Organization, between 2000 and 2009, more than 3,500 natural disasters were recorded globally, almost five times the number 50 years ago.
China is the country that suffers the most from floods, storms, landslides and droughts. Since 2000, nearly 500 disasters have occurred. Followed by India and the Philippines, there were 333 and 290 disasters respectively.
According to the World Meteorological Organization, floods are the most devastating economic disaster. It is estimated that China will lose 47 billion U.S. dollars due to floods in 1998. If the sea level rises by 0.2 meters, Guangzhou, the commercial center of southern China, may lose USD 13 million annually by 2050. The 2011 floods caused Thailand’s economic loss of approximately US$44 billion, which was the largest disaster loss in the past decade.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) predicts that the fisheries sector in the region will be severely affected by rising temperatures that kill coral reefs. It is estimated that losses will reach 57.98 billion U.S. dollars by 2050, even if the world has achieved the goal of preventing global temperature rise without exceeding industrialization The front level is 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Global warming is also harmful to human health, as continued heat waves will cause more deaths, trigger droughts and reduce food supplies. Natural disasters have also created conditions to increase diseases such as diarrhea, and breed mosquito larvae that carry parasites that cause malaria and dengue fever.
The World Health Organization (WHO) stated that more than 150,000 people die from climate change every year and predicts that this number will increase by 250,000 people every year between 2030-2050.
According to the World Meteorological Organization, under such circumstances, it is estimated that by 2030, more than 64,000 people will die from heatstroke, malnutrition, malaria, dengue fever and diarrhea in Asia alone. Developing countries account for the majority of deaths related to natural disasters.
Asian cities are also at risk of being submerged by rising sea levels. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts that the Asian monsoon will become stronger and last longer. Warm air evaporates more water from the ocean, which then causes rainfall on land.
According to a study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the 13 major port cities in Asia are among the 20 most severely damaged by floods every year.
Coupled with the rise in the level of Shanghai, the threat will become more serious, and it is expected to rise by 0.28 to 0.55 m. Capitals and major cities on or near the coast, such as Bangkok and Manila, are in danger of disappearing by the end of this century.
Cities in developing Asian countries are more vulnerable than modern cities like Amsterdam. According to an OECD study of 136 major coastal cities, the Dutch capital has the best irrigation system in the world, despite 83 billion USD worth of assets at risk of flooding. At the same time, even small floods can cause severe damage to Asian cities with poor drainage systems.
Climate change is also accompanied by concerns about food supply. Global warming directly threatens the important sectors of agriculture in Asian developing countries. The decline in crop production will have a serious impact on Southeast Asia, where agriculture accounts for 10.3% of GDP.
According to data from the World Food Program, rice is the main food problem on a continent where 265 million people cannot feed themselves.
In a survey conducted by the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore last year, more than 72% of Southeast Asian respondents believed that climate change threatened food security. The warning states that the regions producing 31% of the world’s rice will be hit particularly hard.
ADB estimates that by the end of this century, rice production in rice-producing countries such as Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, and the Philippines will fall by 50% from 1990 levels.
If there is a long-term drought, the rice output of farmers in South Asia may also drop by 8% by the middle of this century. It is expected that corn production will drop by 16% and sorghum production will drop by 11% over the same period.
Faced with a series of huge challenges, the results of the COP26 climate change summit held in Glasgow, Scotland are said to be extremely important to Asia. The conference is expected to last for two weeks and will end on November 12.
However, experts say that Asia still has many opportunities to manage the risks and challenges brought about by climate change instead of relying on negotiations.
The climate report states: “Many regions in Asia are building infrastructure and urban areas, which gives the region an opportunity to ensure that new buildings are more resistant to natural disasters.” The global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company had a paragraph in November 2020. “Major economies in the region, such as China and Japan, are also world leaders in clean energy technology, which is essential to adapt to and mitigate the impact of climate change.”
luster (follow Nikkei)