The front pages of the newspapers are filled with the horrors of Hurricane Sandy but Dr. Jeff Masters of WunderBlog makes a powerful case that droughts kill more and create more economic havoc than hurricanes. Making a list of the ten worse disasters since 1980, the droughts of 1980, 1988 and 2012 occupy three of the top five spots.
Amazingly, just the droughts of 1980 and 1988 alone took over 17,000 lives! The death toll from this year's drought will be most likely greater than Hurricane Sandy and Hurricane Issac combined total.
Dr. Masters writes of the ramifications if a world wide drought should ever hit:
The nation's top scientific research group, the National Research Council, released an 18-month study on November 9, 2012, titled, "Climate and Social Stress: Implications for Security Analysis". They stated: “It is prudent to expect that over the course of a decade some climate events--including single events, conjunctions of events occurring simultaneously or in sequence in particular locations, and events affecting globally integrated systems that provide for human well-being--will produce consequences that exceed the capacity of the affected societies or global system to manage and that have global security implications serious enough to compel international response.” In other words, states will fail, millions will suffer famine, mass migrations and war will break out, and national and international agencies will be too overwhelmed to cope. We were very lucky that the 2012 U.S. drought did not occur the year following the great 2010 Russian drought. That drought drove up food prices to the highest levels since 1992, and helped trigger social unrest that led to the "Arab Spring" revolts that overthrew multiple governments. Severe droughts in back-to-back years in major world grain-producing areas could cause unprecedented global famine and unrest, and climate change is steadily increasing the odds of this happening.