Hurricane Florence damage seen from air near Lumberton, North Carolina Cars sit in floodwater caused by Hurricane Florence, in this aerial picture, in Lumberton, North Carolina, the United States, Sept. 17, 2018. (REUTERS Photo)
UNITED NATIONS, March 28 (Xinhua) -- Global warming has accelerated and brought about grave socio-economic challenges to the world, a report of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) showed.
Most of the natural hazards in 2018, which affected nearly 62 million people, were associated with extreme weather and climate events, according to "WMO Statement on the State of the Global Climate 2018," released at UN Headquarters in New York on Thursday.
Floods alone affected more than 35 million people in 2018, it said. Hurricane Florence and Michael were two of 14 "billion dollar disasters" in 2018 in the United States. These disasters triggered around 49 billion U.S. dollars in damage and over 1150 deaths.
Super typhoon Mangkhut affected more than 2.4 million people and killed at least 134 people, mainly in the Philippines, said the report.
More than 1,1500 deaths were associated with intense heat waves and wildfires in Europe, Japan and the United States. In America alone, economic losses amounted to 24 billion dollars from these disasters in 2018.
Exposure of the agriculture sector to climate extremes is threatening to reverse gains made in ending malnutrition, said the report.
It quoted data from UN agencies as showing that there was a continuing rise in world hunger after a prolonged decline. In 2017, the number of undernourished people was estimated to have increased to 821 million, partly due to severe droughts associated with strong El Nino in the two previous years, it said.
Out of the 17.7 million internally displaced persons tracked by the International Organization for Migration, over 2 million people were displaced due to disasters linked to weather and climate events as of September 2018, said the report.
Droughts, floods and storms (including hurricanes and cyclones) are the events that have led to the most disaster-induced displacement in 2018.
The report found that 2018 was the fourth warmest year on record and that 2015-2018 were the four warmest years on record. Average global temperature reached about 1 degree Celcius above pre-industrial levels.
2018 saw new records for ocean heat content and the highest global mean sea level on record, says the report.
"The data released in this report give cause for great concern," UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres wrote in a statement for the report. "These data confirm the urgency of climate action."
UN General Assembly President Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces echoed Guterres. "This wide-ranging and significant report by the World Meteorological Organization clearly underlines the need for urgent action on climate change and shows the value of authoritative scientific data to inform governments in their decision-making process," she wrote in a statement for the report.