The recent snowstorms in China have signaled that "freak weather" is becoming increasingly more common, a United Nations body that seeks to mitigate the impact of natural disasters warned on Wednesday.
The unprecedented scale, cost, and human impacts of China's freak month of snowstorms, its worst in 50 years, herald a need for the world to get ready for "new kinds of disasters," said the Geneva-based International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR).
"So-called 'freak weather' is becoming more common, and reducing vulnerability to these unexpected extremes must be a top priority for governments," the agency said in a statement.
ISDR emphasized the growing importance of ensuring infrastructure can withstand weather that was previously unthinkable.
"When billions of dollars in potential losses are balanced against the low costs of prevention in the future, the choice should be clear," it said.
According to the agency, the impact of the recent snowstorms on China's vast, mobile population, are a lesson in how "we need to reduce the risks associated with extreme weather that most countries can expect in the future."
The agency also praised the Chinese government's rapid activation of emergency plans and marshaling of state resources to respond to the needs of over 100 million of its citizens.
"Governments across the world can learn from the Chinese government's commitment. Governments should also learn from the shock of new types of disasters, and need to start examining how to best adapt to unpredictable, 'freak' conditions that may sadly become all too normal," it said.
(Xinhua News Agency February 7, 2008)