Massive drop in deaths from natural disasters

Natural Disaster Summary Chart 1900 – 2011

deaths from natural disasters

Here’s a really interesting bit of data via @HansRosling about the amazing decline in deaths resulting from natural disasters. Even though the number of disasters reported and the number of people affected has climbed substantially (no surprise given the better telecommunications and technology we have access to these days, and the global growth in population), the number of deaths from natural disasters has dropped by around 90% since 1920. As Matt Ridley has argued in The Rational Optimist, this may be explained as much by preparedness and relative wealth of the affected region than anything else: in 2007 category five hurricane Dean hit the well prepared (and relatively wealthy) Yucatán Peninsula and killed around 45 people; a year later the category four cyclone Nargis hit the poorly prepared and impoverished Burma killing around 138,000 people.

Source – http://www.emdat.be/natural-disasters-trends

Are fossil fuels greening the planet?

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More provocative, disruptive and thought-provoking stuff from Matt Ridley, author of The Rational Optimist. Are fossil fuels actually helping to green the planet? Are species really going extinct on the scale we presume? Are bio-fuels causing more harm than good? Is intensive farming the answer to better conservation of natural habitats?

Whether you find yourself enraged or enlightened, this video is well worth 20 mins of your time.

A little commerce goes a long way

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david-hume

David Hume thought commerce ‘rather favourable to liberty, and has a natural tendency to preserve, if not produce a free government’ and that ‘nothing is more favourable to the rise of politeness and learning, than a number of neighbouring and independent states, connected together by commerce and policy’.

Matt Ridley, The Rational Optimist

The curse of resources and the benefits of trade

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Even the Dutch, those epitomes of seventeenth-century enterprise, fell under the curse of resources in the late twentieth century when they found too much natural gas: the Dutch disease, they called it, as their inflated currency hurt their exporters. Japan spent the first half of the twentieth century jealously seeking to grab resources and ended up in ruins; it spent the second half of the century trading and selling without resources and ended up topping the lifespan league.

Matt Ridley, The Rational Optimist