"The world experienced unprecedented high-impact climate extremes during the 2001-2010 decade," says the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) in a recently published report.
The weather experts point out that this period has seen the warmest land and ocean temperatures, rapidly melting Arctic and Antarctic sea ice, rising ocean levels and growing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases.
All of this, the WMO says, has been associated with catastrophic weather events such as the heat waves in Europe and Russia, Hurricane Katrina in in the United States of America and droughts in the Amazon Basin, Australia and East Africa.
The report also describes the period since the turn of the century as the second wettest since 1901 with floods being "the most frequently experienced extreme events over the course of the decade." In this context, it cites the inundations in Eastern Europe, India, Africa, Pakistan and Australia.
Tell us something we didn't know, you might say.
Well here goes: The 21st century has seen an explosion in city populations and a strongly growing concentration of economic activity in urban centers. Assuming that the past flood developments described by the WMO also turn into a future trend, then human beings, infrastructure and commercial life - especially in the cities- are going to be in serious jeopardy.
Two recent Swiss Re publications focus on heightened urban flood risks in Brazil and China and describe the kind of solutions the insurance industry offers to mitigate these risks.
Category: Climate/natural disasters: Climate change, Disaster risk, Floods/storms