|Rank:||Name / Areas of Largest Loss:||Year:||Ocean Area:||Deaths:|
|1||Great Bhola Cyclone, Bangladesh||1970||Bay of Bengal||550,000|
|2||Hooghly River Cyclone, India and Bangladesh||1737||Bay of Bengal||350,000|
|3||Haiphong Typhoon, Vietnam||1881||West Pacific||300,000|
|3||Coringa, India||1839||Bay of Bengal||300,000|
|5||Backerganj Cyclone, Bangladesh||1584||Bay of Bengal||200,000|
|6||Great Backerganj Cyclone, Bangladesh||1876||Bay of Bengal||200,000|
|7||Chittagong, Bangladesh||1897||Bay of Bengal||175,000|
|8||Super Typhoon Nina, China||1975||West Pacific||171,000|
|9||Cyclone 02B, Bangladesh||1991||Bay of Bengal||140,000|
|10||Great Bombay Cyclone, India||1882||Arabian Sea||100,000|
|11||Hakata Bay Typhoon, Japan||1281||West Pacific||65,000|
|12||Calcutta, India||1864||Bay of Bengal||60,000|
|13||Swatlow, China||1922||West Pacific||60,000|
|14||Barisal, Bangladesh||1822||Bay of Bengal||50,000|
|15||Sunderbans coast, Bangladesh||1699||Bay of Bengal||50,000|
|16||Bengal Cyclone, Calcutta, India||1942||Bay of Bengal||40,000|
|17||Canton, China||1862||West Pacific||37,000|
|18||Backerganj (Barisal), Bangladesh||1767||Bay of Bengal||30,000|
|19||Barisal, Bangladesh||1831||Bay of Bengal||22,000|
|20||Great Hurricane, Lesser Antilles Islands||1780||Atlantic||22,000|
|21||Devi Taluk, SE India||1977||Bay of Bengal||20,000|
|21||Great Coringa Cyclone, India||1789||Bay of Bengal||20,000|
Oddly uncorrelated with atmospheric temperature or CO2, huh? In fact, three of the four most recent occured in the seventies, a time known for its cooling. Two of the top five occured around the period of the little ice age.
What is normal? One other thought. I have often asked, vis a vis climate, the question "What is Normal?" Because of the quality of observation by sattelites, we tend to define normal by what we have observed since about 1979, when the first satellites began gathering relevent global climate data. For example, when news stories last year said the Arctic sea ice was at "an all time low," they actually meant the lowest point since satellites began observing the ice c.1979. "All time" meant the last 30 years. Note that only one of these 22 storms occured in the last 30 years. By defining "normal" as the last 30 years, we would in this case miss over 95% of the severest storms. Even defining "noral" as the time since 1900 would cause us to miss 7 of the top 10 storms.
Spot the correlation: Do you see a correlation in this list? How about with poverty? When cyclones hit US low-lying coastal areas and drive flooding up river valleys and deltas (think Katrina) we get a few hundred or at most a couple of thousand deaths, at most. A tragedy for sure, but Katrina did not even kill 10% of the people killed by the bottom storm on this list. What is the difference? Poverty. From this data table, which option makes more sense:
- Reduce CO2 and perhaps ocean temperatures by a few tenths of a degree, in the process limiting economic growth and increasing poverty.
- Burn all the fossil fuels we can on the path to helping people in Bangladesh and China and India become wealthier.
I am sure I know which would save more lives.