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International Day for Environmental Disaster Reduction

The number and cost of natural disasters are increasing: we must reverse the course - a reflection on the occasion of the International Day for the Reduction of Natural Disasters

The data speak to us: we're getting more and more exposed. The cost of damage caused by natural disasters - floods, storms, hurricanes, extreme heat peaks, droughts, fires and landslides - has increased by 20 times in the last 50 years. According to research conducted between Italy and the United States by Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna of Pisa and Pennsylvania State University, if in the 70s each catastrophic event cost 500 million dollars, today it has reached the cost of 10 billion. The most significant increase concerns the most temperate areas of the planet such as Europe.

The International Day for the Reduction of Natural Disasters, held every October 13, celebrates the ways in which people and communities work to reduce their exposure to natural disasters, spreading awareness of the importance of preventing as much as possible extreme events. But what is meant by natural disasters? These are catastrophic events that attack and adversely affect the ecosystem. They can consist of natural phenomena or phenomena of human origin and are distinguished by the large number of living beings affected, the degree of impairment that the environmental disaster impresses on them and the size of the area involved. There are also cases where circumstances are encouraged by the action of the animals themselves, especially in the case of species artificially introduced into a habitat other than their original one.

There is considerable room for improvement because the most frequent types of disaster are human activities, which can therefore change direction and intensity. Risk factors include the exploitation of mineral reserves and water resources, deforestation, the production of chemicals and nuclear energy, oil extraction and military testing. According to the Italian-American survey, which took into account 5% of the most catastrophic events, the cost of the damage caused has increased each year by about 5 million dollars. The economic parameter, which is clearly not the only important one, explains well, however, how fundamental it is to change course and pursue sustainable activities.

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