$109 billion: Cost of Natural Disasters in 2010

Who says climate change mitigation isn’t worth the cost? Of course, we can’t tie every natural disaster to climate change (we’ve had natural disasters since the beginning of time), but one of the key effects of climate change is an increase in natural disasters and in the scale of natural disasters. Normal will soon be what we once thought was extreme when it comes to weather.

And this costs a fortune.

“Natural disasters caused $109 billion in economic damage last year, three times more than in 2009, with Chile and China bearing most of the cost, the United Nations said on Monday,” Laura MacInnis of Reuters reports. While a decent portion of that was from earthquakes, climate change was a huge potential culprit for the rest.

“Landslides and floods last summer in China caused $18 billion in losses, data compiled by the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) showed….The July-August floods in Pakistan cost $9.5 billion.”

Of course, the fact that many nations are growing fast economically also increases the price tag of these natural disasters. But as MacInnis notes, the importance of climate change cannot be discounted.

“Many people also live in parts of urban areas vulnerable to landslides and floods, which are anticipated to occur more often as a result of climate change, Wahlstrom [the U.N. assistant secretary-general for disaster risk reduction] said, also warning of rising risks from ‘silent events’ like droughts…. The 2009 economic price tag of $34.9 billion was unusually low because of the lack of a major weather or climate event in the period, which nonetheless saw floods and typhoons in Asia and an earthquake in Indonesia.”

And beyond the economics, of course, the human toll is tremendous:

Of the 373 disasters recorded last year, 22 were in China, 16 were in India and 14 were in the Philippines, CRED said.

The storms, earthquakes, heatwaves and cold snaps affected 207 million people and killed 296,800, according to the data, which does not incorporate an increase of Haiti’s death toll announced earlier this month by Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive. [ID:nN12209317]

The global toll estimates that 55,736 people died from a summer heatwave in Russia which led to crop failures and helped drive up food prices. [ID:nLDE70J1EE]

It also says 2,968 people were killed in an April earthquake in China and 1,985 died from the Pakistani floods.

Photo Credit: broocey

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