Natural Disasters

The Kashmir earthquake, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, floods in Bombay and Guatemala, the Indian Ocean tsunami—is the world entering an era of more frequent natural catastrophes? In its 2005 World Disaster Report, released this month, the International Red Cross counted 360 natural disasters in 2004, up from 239 in 1995. But the truly striking feature is the sharp increase in the number of people killed by catastrophes: 901,177 from 1995 to 2004, according to the Red Cross, compared to 643,418 people in the previous decade.

One explanation for the numbers is beyond dispute: population growth. More and more...

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