Monday, May 27, 2013

Mounting Disasters

More Billion-Plus Dollar Losses

 ~ The number and severity of economic losses from extreme weather events has been on the rise for years:

Weather related losses exceeding $1B each over the past 20 years

Several interesting things pop out from this graphic:
  • Droughts and heat waves (yellow) have increased in number, although the typical size of each event was higher in the previous decade.
  • Wildfires (red) are increasing in number
  • Tornadoes (purple) have dramatically increased in number and severity.
  • Hurricanes (dark blue) have also increased in both number and severity; it is not yet clear whether the last few years suggest a return to "normalcy" or just a brief respite in a worrisome trend.
Total damages are on the rise, and losses over the past decade exceeded half a trillion dollars. Given concerns about budget deficits, reducing that expense would be a worthwhile object of public policy discussion.

While direct linkage to climate change is notoriously difficult to prove in individual cases, the overall picture over the past 20 years cannot otherwise be easily explained. Engaging in puerile finger-pointing and self-interested politics is not befitting those we expect to provide leadership for the country as a whole.

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