Extreme Weather Drove More Than 30 Million People from Their Homes in 2012

Philip Bump
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Extreme Weather Drove More Than 30 Million People from Their Homes in 2012

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In case you weren't sure what climate change looks like, here's a preview: It looks like millions of people displaced from their homes due to flooding. For example, in 2012, when 32.4 million people had to leave their homes due to disaster, the majority of whom were displaced by flooding from monsoons and typhoons in Asia.

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The Norwegian Refugee Council operates the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, the focus of which is to track how and where such displacement occurs. Its estimates for 2012, released today, indicates that the year's total comprises 22 percent of displacements since 2008. Sixty-eight percent of the displacement was as the result of what the IDMC calls a "mega event" — an event that displaces at least a million people. Ninety-eight percent of all displacement was due to climate- or weather-related events.

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The group created a detailed map outlining the countries affected by displacement. We've pulled out the most affected.

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Unusually, the United States was in the top ten countries affected, thanks largely to Hurricane Sandy. It's often the case that those displaced are from the poorest countries in the world. And, indeed, 98 percent of those displaced in 2012 live in developing countries. The map below shows gross domestic product by country; the lighter the country, the lower its GDP (expressed in millions of US dollars).

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The report also notes that the countries most affected are consistently the same: China, India, Pakistan, the Philippines, and Nigeria. This is in part due to the population size of each country. But it is also because each is an area at greater risk for weather-related disasters, like flooding. As sea levels rise, that problem may only grow worse.

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Photo: Residents flee a typhoon in the Philippines. (AP)