More costly natural disasters, more often.
The annual number of billion-dollar natural disasters in the United States—earthquakes, floods, fires, hurricanes and more—has tripled since the 1980s, from two to about six per year.
And 2011 was a barn-burner, with 14 separate $1 billion-plus weather events, according to the George Washington University Face the Facts initiative.
Costly natural disasters: Price tag in the billions
That’s like buying 4,500 new homes at the median price for every major hurricane, tornado outburst, flood and drought. Losses from U.S. natural disasters in 2011 topped $60 billion.
Over four days, a record 343 tornadoes swept the U.S., claiming 321 lives or more than 80 lives a day. So far, in 2012 the nation has experienced off-the chart heat waves. The hottest day on the record was in July. And April 2012 marked the end of the warmest 12-month stretch ever in the U.S., according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.
International natural disasters in 2011, Japan had an epic earthquake and tsunami, while Australia had massive floods and cyclones. News reports have echoed that the insurance costs have increased for consumers in the long term.
For instance, Japan’s earthquake and tsunami amounted to $210 billion during the first six months after the disaster struck. In that same year, the United States experienced a series of storms, floodings, fires and earthquakes.
It was referred to as “the year of the tornado.”
Peter Hoppe, who runs the company’s Geo Risks Research/Corporate Climate Center, told MSNBC news that “natural events like La Niña and El Niño—ocean cycles that alter weather systems—are certainly factors as well, but warming temperatures appear to be adding a layer “on top” of that natural variability.”
He added, “It can only be explained by global warming.”
Global warming is the dangerous effect on the earth’s climate caused by a buildup in natural gases produced by fossil fuels and green house gases.
Emissions rose 5.9 percent in 2010, according to the Global Carbon Project, an international collaboration of scientists. The New York Times reported that “the increase solidified a trend of ever-rising emissions that scientists fear will make it difficult, if not impossible, to forestall severe climate change in coming decades.”