Let's face it, as a planet we got lucky in 2014. The 4,700 disaster-related fatalities across the globe were far below the average of 10,800 per year over the last decade. The estimated 42 billion dollars in losses represents just 0.3 percent of global GDP. "It was a bad year but there have been ones much worse," said Dr. Roger Pielke of the Center for Science and Technology Policy at the University of Colorado. "Right now we seem to be in a lull before the next big disaster."
The jury is out on the cause of all of these catastrophes, but one thing is certain: global warming, poverty, and war are putting more in harm's way. "Manmade events are driving people into disaster-prone areas and setting the stage for death," says Tim Shank of Doctors Without Borders. "We are trying to prepare regions to be self-sustaining, but our disaster response is getting harder with population growth." Needless to say, the aid dispensed to the 22.4 million people displaced this year was critical.