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Wildfires, hurricanes and other extreme weather cost the nation 247 lives, nearly $100 billion in damage during 2018


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https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2019/02/06/wildfires-hurricanes-other-extreme-weather-cost-nation-lives-nearly-billion-damage-during/?utm_term=.b16cc7d2824b

 

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Ferocious wildfires that consumed entire California neighborhoods. Devastating hurricanes that inundated communities from Florida to North Carolina. Brutal hailstorms in Colorado and Texas. Tornadoes across the Midwest and South. A record deluge in Hawaii.

 

Those catastrophes and others were among the 14 billion-dollar weather and climate disasters to hit the United States during 2018, according to data released Wednesday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The disasters killed at least 247 people and cost the nation an estimated $91 billion, the agency said. The bulk of that damage, about $73 billion, was attributable to three events: Hurricanes Michael and Florence and the collection of wildfires that raged across the West.

 

2018 did not set the record for the most expensive year for such disasters. That distinction belongs to 2017, when Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria combined with devastating Western wildfires and other natural catastrophes caused $306 billion in total damage. They were part of a historic year, which saw 16 separate events that cost more than $1 billion each.

 

But the most recent numbers continue what some experts call an alarming trend toward an increasing number of billion-dollar disasters, fueled. at least in part, by the warming climate.

 

Since 1980, the United States has experienced 241 weather and climate disasters where the overall damage reached or exceeded $1 billion, when adjusted for inflation. The total cost for those events exceeded $1.6 trillion. Between 1980 and 2013, according to NOAA, the nation averaged about 6.2 billion-dollar disasters a year. Over the most recent five years, that number has jumped to more than 12.

 

The trend shows few signs of slowing.

 

“The recent past is likely prologue,” said Mark Muro, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, who has studied the economic impact climate change is likely to have on different parts of the country in the coming decades.

 

Many factors contribute to the cost of any one disaster. For instance, a hurricane that hits a heavily populated area, such as Hurricane Sandy in 2012 or Hurricane Harvey in 2017, is likely to have a far higher economic impact than one that hits a less crowded swath of the country. The nation’s growing population, insufficient building codes and the fact that many cities and infrastructure sit near coasts or along rivers also play a role. But increasingly, experts say, so does climate change.

 

“I look at these numbers every year. There’s this knot in your stomach where you know there is some big piece of this that is probably coming from climate change, but at the same time, there are a lot of moving parts,” said Solomon Hsiang, a public policy professor at the University of California at Berkeley, who has studied how natural disasters impact societies.

 

Continued

 

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9 minutes ago, CitizenVectron said:

 

You know, it's going to be interesting to see that the insurance industry is probably going to end up being on the largest drivers of fighting climate change, simply because there are going to be a looooot of claims.

The reinsurance industry already is a big pusher. 

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12 minutes ago, b_m_b_m_b_m said:

The reinsurance industry already is a big pusher. 

 

Definitely. For those unaware, the reinsurance companies are the ones that insure the losses/payouts of insurance companies. Basically insurance for insurance payouts. So they pressure insurance companies to reduce their payouts, which influences the coverages/options that insurers provide to consumers.

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3 minutes ago, CitizenVectron said:

 

Definitely. For those unaware, the reinsurance companies are the ones that insure the losses/payouts of insurance companies. Basically insurance for insurance payouts. So they pressure insurance companies to reduce their payouts, which influences the coverages/options that insurers provide to consumers.

 

I was about to google what that was, so thanks for saving me the effort :p

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