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During the 20s, 40s and 60s, hundreds of thousands of people died due to drought. As late as the 1980s, over 55,000 people died because of this. Now, entering the 2020s, the corresponding number so far is 3,339.
During the 1930s and 50s, hundreds of thousands of people died in floods. In the 2010s, the corresponding number so far is 5,811.
During the early 1900s, an enormous number died due to epidemics. The 1918 flu epidemic took between 50-100 million lives. Cholera and typhoid killed hundreds of thousands of people around the world between 1900 and 1950.
There are many reasons as to why fewer and fewer people are dying because of natural disasters and epidemics. Fundamental is that we are much richer now. Global poverty levels are dropping at a pace never before seen in human history. For the first time ever, 5o% of the world's population is middle class or wealthier. Cities can invest significantly more in infrastructure and other security measures.
With more robust buildings, more advanced warning systems, better access to water and breakthroughs in medicine, more people survive fires, earthquakes, droughts, floods and diseases.
The interactive graph shows the number of deaths, in absolute terms, globally per year caused by natural disasters. The graph also shows types of natural disasters.
Source: Our World in Data
Photo: Tomas Ribeiro