FACT CHECK: Did The United Nations Say That 2 Million People Die Per Year Due To Extreme Weather?

Elias Atienza | Senior Reporter

The New York Times reported that the United Nations (U.N) said that two million people die each year due to extreme weather.

Verdict: False

The U.N. said that two million people over the past 50 years have died from extreme weather events, not two million a year.

Fact Check:

During the first primary GOP debate on Wednesday, Ramaswamy said that “the climate change agenda is a hoax,” according to NBC News. He also claimed more people are dying from “bad climate change policies” rather than climate change itself, Politico reports.

The New York Times fact-checked Ramaswamy’s claim as false and shared the fact-check on Instagram. In its reporting, The New York Times said that “extreme weather fueled by climate change is linked to the deaths of more than two million people each year, according to the United Nations.”

That reporting, however, is false. The World Meteorological Organization (WMO), which is part of the U.N., said in May 2023 that two million people have died between 1970 and 2021 from “extreme weather events turbo-charged by man-made global warming,” according to the UN News. The WMO’s press release states, “improved early warnings and coordinated disaster management has slashed the human casualty toll over the past half a century.”

The WMO found that between “1970 and 2021, there were 11,778 reported disasters attributed to weather, climate and water extremes. They caused 2,087,229 deaths and US$ 4.3 trillion in economic losses.​” (RELATED: Did Vivek Ramaswamy Say, ‘Climate Change Is A Hoax’?)

Outlets at the time, such as the Associated Press and USA Today, reported that the U.N. found that two million people died over 50 years due to extreme weather. Check Your Fact could not find any media outlets reporting that two million deaths are linked to extreme weather.

The New York Times issued a correction, writing, “An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that extreme weather events were responsible for two million deaths every year. The study cited said that the number was two million deaths between 1970 and 2021, according to the U.N.’s World Meteorological Organization.” The outlet also issue deleting the old Instagram post with the incorrect information and issued a correction on its new Instagram post.

Check Your Fact reached out to the U.N. and the New York Times for comment.

Update 8/25/2023: This article has been updated to reflect that the New York Times deleted their incorrect Instagram post and issued a correction on its new post. 

Elias Atienza

Senior Reporter
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