World Meteorological Day is celebrated annually on the 23rd of March to mark the establishment of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in 1950. The day is observed to raise awareness of the significance of meteorology and the role of the WMO in promoting sustainable development and improving people’s lives worldwide.
The theme for World Meteorological Day 2023 is “Future of Weather, Climate, Water across Generations.” This theme highlights the need to address the challenges of weather, climate, and water-related hazards that are increasingly severe due to climate change.
The need for Implementing Early Warning Systems
The WMO has been working tirelessly to improve weather forecasting and provide early warning systems for extreme weather events. Early warning systems are crucial in reducing the impacts of natural disasters such as floods, hurricanes, droughts, and heat waves. The implementation of early warning systems is often considered a cost-effective and efficient method for adapting to the effects of climate change. Such systems serve as readily available solutions that can safeguard individuals and assets against a variety of natural hazards such as storms, floods, heat waves, and tsunamis.
According to the Global Commission on Adaptation, investing a mere $800 million in early warning systems in developing countries could prevent annual losses ranging from $3 billion to $16 billion. This underscores the immense cost-benefit advantage of implementing such systems in vulnerable regions.
Taking note of the benefit of such systems, COP27 adopted the resolution of ensuring the availability of Early Warning Systems for all. United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said, “Ever-rising greenhouse gas emissions are supercharging extreme weather events across the planet. These increasing calamities cost lives and hundreds of billions of dollars in loss and damage. Three times more people are displaced by climate disasters than war. Half of humanity is already in the danger zone.”
He further added, “We must invest equally in adaptation and resilience. That includes the information that allows us to anticipate storms, heatwaves, floods and droughts. To that end, I have called for every person on Earth to be protected by early warning systems within five years, with the priority to support the most vulnerable first.”
Importance of Early Warning Systems
Early warning systems play a crucial role in protecting people, communities, and economies from the impacts of natural disasters. The following are some of the reasons why early warning systems are essential:
1. Saves Lives
Early warning systems help save lives by providing timely information to people in areas at risk of natural disasters. People can take necessary precautions and evacuate before a disaster strikes, reducing the number of casualties.
2. Reduces Damage
Early warning systems also help reduce damage to infrastructure and property. People can take protective measures such as securing their homes and moving valuable items to higher ground, reducing the damage caused by floods and other natural disasters.
3. Prevents Economic Losses
Natural disasters can cause significant economic losses, both in the short and long term. Early warning systems can help prevent economic losses by allowing businesses to prepare and minimise disruption to their operations.
4. Increases Preparedness
Early warning systems help increase preparedness for natural disasters. People can stock up on necessary supplies such as food, water, and medicine and prepare emergency plans, reducing the chaos and panic during a disaster.
5. Provides Reliable Information
Early warning systems provide reliable information to people, which can help dispel rumours and misinformation. This can prevent panic and confusion during a disaster and ensure that people take necessary actions based on accurate information.
6. Provides Time for Response and Action
Early warning systems provide time for people and governments to respond and take action before a natural disaster occurs. This includes evacuating people from high-risk areas, providing necessary supplies and resources to affected communities, and preparing emergency services for response.
7. Saves Money
Early warning systems not only save lives and prevent economic losses but also save money in the long run. By investing in early warning systems and preparedness measures, governments and communities can reduce the costs of disaster response and recovery.
8. Promotes Sustainable Development
Early warning systems play a critical role in promoting sustainable development. By providing early warnings of natural disasters, communities can prepare for and mitigate the impacts of these events, reducing damage to infrastructure, property, and the environment.
9. Supports Climate Adaptation
Early warning systems are essential in supporting climate adaptation efforts. As the impacts of climate change become more severe, early warning systems will become increasingly necessary to help communities adapt to changing weather patterns and prepare for extreme weather events.