Study: Hollywood Movies Demonstrate the UN Needs More Funding to Prevent Climate Disasters

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

The United Nations Office of Disaster Risk Reduction is so obscure they don’t even have their own ambassador. But according to a study, unless the UNDRR receives more money, disasters could soon claim a trillion dollars per year.

Revenge of the nerds: Disaster risk reduction and climate change

18 March 2021 

‘It is time to inject some urgency into the DRR agenda.’

John H. Patterson
Humanitarian professional who has deployed to more than 25 countries and advises international organisations on issues including disaster risk reduction

Topher L. McDougal
Development economist and Associate Professor of Economic Development at the University of San Diego’s Kroc School of Peace Studies

Disaster risk reduction, or DRR, has long been a pariah of the international development and humanitarian assistance worlds.

Floating in the ambiguous space between disaster response and economic development, DRR lacks both the immediacy of a humanitarian crisis and the allure of big-budget development projects. Preventing disasters and reducing hazard risks are a good idea and a wonderful talking point, but DRR has consistently failed to capture sustained attention and funding. For all the fervour over the “humanitarian to development nexus” or the “triple nexus” – joining up peacebuilding, humanitarian assistance, and development – DRR continues to be more of an afterthought than a central pillar of aid strategy.

Part of the problem is that DRR is just not very marketable. The UN’s humanitarian aid coordination arm, OCHA, can list Beyoncé and Forest Whitaker as collaborators; the UN’s refugee agency, UNHCR, has Angelina Jolie; and the UN Development Programme recently added Yemi Alade to a list of goodwill ambassadors that already included the likes of Padma Lakshmi and Antonio Banderas. The UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, UNDRR, has none.

But if American cinema has taught us anything, it is that ignoring the nerds comes at a price – a big price. In a recent paper published in the International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, we estimate that a 1-degree increase in global temperatures would require a near tripling in disaster response spending just to match the current level of humanitarian coverage, which is generally agreed to be insufficient. This means that – within 15 years – failing to properly prepare for the coming impacts of climate change could lead to an annual global disaster response bill topping $1 trillion (including often unreported or under-counted domestic spending).

Read more:

The abstract of the study;

The global financial burden of humanitarian disasters: Leveraging GDP variation in the age of climate change

Author links Topher L.McDougal, John H.Patterson

  • Total humanitarian spending is 13 times as high as official figures: $367 billion.•
  • 1 °C global temperature rise implies disaster spending of $1 trillion, 0.75% of GDP.•
  • GDP per capita is the most reliably significant predictor of international flows.•
  • Temperature anomalies predict significant increases to disaster vulnerability.

We quantify the global spending burden of humanitarian disaster response. While international response flows are well documented, global domestic spending on disasters is virtually unknown in any comprehensive way. We employ log-log fixed-effects models to estimate international humanitarian disaster response spending as recorded by UNOCHA’s Financial Tracking Service (FTS) by recipient country and year, as a function of GDP per capita. Conservatively assuming all humanitarian disaster response spending in the poorest countries originates from without, we calculate a Population Attributable Fraction for the proportion of total spending attributable to GDP per capita, reverse-calculating yearly estimates of total humanitarian disaster response spending. We find global humanitarian expenditures to be roughly 13 times as high as official FTS figures, or around $367 billion annually. Finally, we use Simultaneous Equation Models to examine how total humanitarian disaster response spending is influenced by climate change (proxied by NASA’s GISS Surface Temperature data). We find each 1° C rise in 5-year temperature anomalies would require an annual 3.1% (95% CI: 0.18%–6.01%) rise in humanitarian spending. In total, we estimate a further 1° C rise in global temperatures would require total annual humanitarian expenditures of approximately $1 trillion, or about 0.75% of worldwide 2019 GDP, in order to maintain current levels of humanitarian needs coverage. We find climate change to influence humanitarian spending only via GDP per capita and disaster hazard exposure, even though temperature anomalies predict significant increases to disaster vulnerability.

Read more:

You have to admit this is a breathtakingly audacious climate pitch; demanding UN money to prevent disasters, citing disaster movies as evidence we should listen to their demand, then presumably, at some point in the future, taking credit for climate disasters which didn’t happen.

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Richard (the cynical one)
March 20, 2021 10:26 pm

As the script of a B movie, it’s a bit of a disaster itself. Send it back to rewrite.

Reply to  Richard (the cynical one)
March 20, 2021 10:38 pm

Better yet, drop it in the spittoon (the spitcan).

March 20, 2021 10:34 pm

Oh, good lord, what a bunch of claptrap. The last sentence is the only thing of value.

March 20, 2021 10:38 pm

taking credit for climate disasters which didn’t happen were prevented.

The next question that arises is how does the UN intent to count something that never happened and the savings accrued? (lol)

Rick C
Reply to  Eric Worrall
March 21, 2021 7:36 am

Yes, but they’re “Simultaneous Equation Models” which, of course, don’t have all that uncertainty of coupled non-linear differential equation models. So, you know, math! It’s complicated. /s

Reply to  Anon
March 21, 2021 6:03 pm

Their waiting for Hollywood to answer that question .
Sending the script to the movie makers now .

Andy Espersen
March 20, 2021 10:42 pm

That’s right – let us follow Hollywood science for our political decisions. Good-looking, smart folks are more reliable advisors, of course.

Alan Robertson
Reply to  Andy Espersen
March 20, 2021 11:39 pm


March 20, 2021 10:46 pm

Watch someone come out with a study in a couple decades showing how global warming could have been prevented if we had an ocean with a protective covering of single use plastic bags starting back around 2016…

Reply to  HeckSpawn
March 22, 2021 7:30 am

There is a bit of difficulty with plastic bags. They mechanically disintegrate from sunlight and waves to nearly microscopic particles in just a few weeks.

They generally don’t float very far in that time, not nearly enough to”form a protective covering of single used plastic bags starting back around 2016…”

The world’s surface area is ~5.1million km^2 of which ~1.48million km^2 is land.

March 21, 2021 12:22 am

Much as I don’t like the cold, ..

I really want the planet to drop down towards another LIA…

…. just to shut these raving AGW cultist loonies up.!

Except they would just change tack.. again !!

High Treason
March 21, 2021 12:59 am

Hollywood is sensationalised FICTION. If the UN thinks this is a reference, then it implies that the UN are a fictitious body themselves in terms of credibility. To be demanding money based on fiction is a sure sign that there is something very suspect about the UN.

Jeroen B.
Reply to  High Treason
March 21, 2021 1:19 am

Solution: pay them in fictitious money as well and expect them to be content with it.

Reply to  High Treason
March 21, 2021 5:41 pm

Hollywood – Actors – Scripts – Unwordly People

sky king
March 21, 2021 1:16 am

Who am I to argue with log-log fixed-effects models and Simultaneous Equation Models to examine disaster response spending to climate change of +1C? These people are masters of bafflegab.

March 21, 2021 2:04 am

All this squawking is a gross insult to those of us who have worked in disaster management and mitigation over the years. Stuff like slowly and steadily engineering rainstorm run-off, creating retention basins that help to mitigate the peak flows. Examining the debris from storms and cyclones; what broke? What didn’t break? Was the structure built according to code in the first place?
A small amount of this work was even funded by the UN back in the days when it wasn’t dominated by half-witted trouser-polishers.

rhoda klapp
March 21, 2021 2:26 am

In the movies, it’s always a lone nerd who is the only one who can see the impending doom. This is not the case with anthropogenic climate change, where one can see the whole establishment and the MSM on board with the disaster scenario. We here are the lone nerds who can see the disaster of transforming the world for a problem that doesn’t really exist.

Reply to  rhoda klapp
March 21, 2021 4:25 am

In this case it’s the few who can see the derangement of the vast majority who, for one reason or another, believe in Anthropogenic global….

Four legs good, two legs bad.

Reply to  rhoda klapp
March 21, 2021 3:31 pm

In the movies, it’s always a lone nerd who is the only one who can see the impending doom.”

Scripts written by wannabe nerds who depend upon nonstop CGI animation to float their ridiculous storylines.

Not to forget about the pseudo-scientists who see themselves as heroes in their sinister anti-science plots. One, just had a libel lawsuit kicked out of court.

very old white guy
March 21, 2021 2:58 am

I look forward to only having rain after midnight until 4 am and balmy sunny days, everyday, for the rest of my life. I wonder how much that will cost?

Reply to  very old white guy
March 21, 2021 6:21 am

“Bridgeport?” said I, “Camelot” said he.

Last edited 1 year ago by kirriepete
March 21, 2021 3:44 am

If American cinema has taught us anything itts taught us that it’s unbelievable nonsense

Cue taking it seriously…

Last edited 1 year ago by strativarius
Pamela Matlack-Klein
March 21, 2021 3:47 am

The UN has been operating in a fictional universe for a long time so why is this any different?

Reply to  Pamela Matlack-Klein
March 21, 2021 3:34 pm

They want more money for less effectiveness.

March 21, 2021 5:40 am

They also illustrate we need massively armed vigilantes to take the law into their own hands and restore justice.
Are we going to get that?

Mumbles McGuirck
Reply to  bluecat57
March 21, 2021 6:03 am

So Chuck Norris should’ve been at the US Capitol on Jan. 6th? /Sarc

Last edited 1 year ago by Mumbles McGuirck
Reply to  Mumbles McGuirck
March 21, 2021 7:04 am

Charles Bronson and Clint Eastwood too. Billy Jack for a cameo.

March 21, 2021 5:51 am

PBS and Bob Ross. Happy Accidents!

Mumbles McGuirck
March 21, 2021 6:00 am

I’ve said this before, I’ll say it again:
Never, EVER rely on Hollywood movies for scientific accumen, political insight, or romantic advice. Scriptwriters are clueless in all 3 areas.

Reply to  Mumbles McGuirck
March 21, 2021 9:51 am

What about history…can we rely on H’Wood for our history?

March 21, 2021 7:21 am

My wife said “What about The Big Bus” when I mentioned that the UN was learning preparedness from Hollywood disaster movies. Fortunately, some jurisdictions, with extraordinary foresight, have acted to avoid The Big Bus disasters by banning nuclear things within their borders. Takoma Park Maryland, a DC suburb, is an example. I am not sure if their ban includes nuclear medicine and x-rays, but doubtless their residents sleep easier (if not sicker.)

Reply to  DHR
March 21, 2021 7:55 am

You can find the full list in the shared database of Putin, NK, CCP, Iran, and Pakistan. New memberships to the service are being added all the time. /sarc

March 21, 2021 7:43 am

It’s worse than we thought….at the UN.

Reply to  ResourceGuy
March 21, 2021 9:52 am

……and in the future…it will get even worse.

March 21, 2021 7:48 am

Don’t forget to smoke a lot on camera for the tobacco sponsor.

March 21, 2021 7:51 am

Who knew that survival was a race for your wallet. Darwin was only half right.

March 21, 2021 8:36 am

Shades of Uncle Tom’s Cabin that supposedly prompted in part the US Civil War resulting in 650,000 war dead, untold wounded, scorched earth of the advancing Union Army destroying businesses, homes, manufacturing facilities, imposing poverty in both North and South. And now we should look at the movies as an inspiration to action for something not proven.

This reminds me of the you have won pitch, send me 1,000 dollars so you can get the 2 million dollars you have won.

Andy Pattullo
March 21, 2021 9:05 am

What’s the difference between citing Hollywood disaster movies and citing their own modelling?

Reply to  Andy Pattullo
March 21, 2021 1:38 pm

If they are now using disaster movies it would suggest they have moved on to a more accurate model.

Tombstone Gabby
March 21, 2021 9:21 am

The United Nations was founded in 1945 with the intent of providing a venue wherein countries could talk about their differences and reach a peaceful solution rather than going to war. (The last meme I saw some years ago was “146 wars and counting”.)

Since then they’ve stuck their noses into just about every aspect of human life, just as any government would do. Control the masses, and have them pay tribute.

Back in the 1970’s, I used to see signs on bus stop seats, “Get the US out of the UN, and the UN out of the US.” Hasn’t happened – as yet.

Reply to  Tombstone Gabby
March 21, 2021 5:52 pm

It seems to have been forgotten that soon after the UN was established leftists infiltrated the organisation, fellow travellers including members of the socialist Fabian Society established in the UK late 1800s, and promoting a new world order.

Australian Attorney General Evatt, a communist and lawyer, put forward the plan for the UN to arrange to sign as many Treaties with member nations as could be created, the objective was/is to get around the Constitution of those member (sovereignty) nations and provide UN supporters in governments with the basis for legislation and regulations to impose UN Treaties: eg; Agenda 21 – Sustainability (now Agenda 30).

Using sustainability as the excuse government lands were converted into National Parks (for future generations), in Australia managed (not well managed with due consideration for 2019/20 bushfires) by National Parks & Wildlife Rangers. Sustainability excuses bans on mining, logging, dams and more, in Marine National Parks bans on commercial fishing and amateurs.

President Trump admonished the UN arguing that they must stop interfering into the affairs of member nations, he did that twice while addressing UN Officials in New York. He told the UN to get back to the original concept model of operation.

The trillions of dollars that have been wasted on climate hoax is not only unacceptable but is also fraudulent, a crime against the people.

Tombstone Gabby
Reply to  Dennis
March 21, 2021 6:33 pm

“… leftists infiltrated the organisation …”

The Presidential aide who was sent from Washington to San Francisco to set up the initial meeting that resulted in the United Nations was Alger Hiss. Hiss had already been accused of being a soviet spy. He denied it.

As intercepted soviet telegrams were decoded, it was determined – much later – that yes, he was a soviet spy.

One telegram mentioned that “X” accompanied Stalin back to Moscow after a “big-three” meeting. There were just three Americans who made that trip. Looking at other telegrams, “X” was in the middle east on such and such date; another telegram – placed “X” at a different location on a particular date. Hiss was the only person who matched those dates and places. (The Verona Papers – released in 1994.)

The communists were there from before the beginning.

“Treason” by Ann Coulter makes very interesting reading.

Christopher Simpson
March 21, 2021 9:34 am

If they’re going to let Hollywood movies guide them, maybe they should keep in mind that it’s always the 97 percent majority of the scientists who are wrong, and “crazy” minority who are right.

Bruce Cobb
March 21, 2021 9:36 am

The UNDRR, like the emperor, wears no clothes. I humbly suggest UNDRR wear.

March 21, 2021 10:04 am

I trust comic books more than movies.

March 21, 2021 1:33 pm

citing disaster movies as evidence we should listen to their demand

Am I missing it? I don’t see anything about that in this post. I would think that a statement like that would warrant sharing the relevant quote(s) from the source material.

Reply to  TonyG
March 21, 2021 4:06 pm

Go to the originating article.

If international aid were a movie about the American high school experience, humanitarians would be the jocks, development experts the student council, and DRR, undoubtedly, the nerds.”

For the record, the author identifies as:
John H. Patterson
Humanitarian professional”

Yup! The author see himself as a sports hero with duo sports awards; Humanitarian and DRR expert.

We found that even when controlling for factors such as exposure to hazards or coping capacity, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was the single-most consistent and reliable predictor of response spending: the lower the GDP, the more disaster response funding.”

That’s right, the poorest countries spend the most in response to disasters… According to their abused statistical models.

With findings like this, please note:

In our study, we used statistical models to try to identify the greatest predictors of where disaster-related spending goes.”

Only by “controlling for factors” could they achieve such levels of confirmation bias.

In their summary paragraph:

“For a hungry refugee receiving substandard schooling in a poorly constructed building set on an earthquake fault line, and whose parents unsuccessfully vie for jobs in a depressed labour market, dissecting needs between humanitarian and development projects seems more like an insult than an honest effort to improve her life.”

None of those factors are climate caused.
Nor is it incorrect to educate and train those people.
Except, the world’s leftists hate and abuse educated citizens.

Reply to  ATheoK
March 22, 2021 7:02 am

I understand that it’s in the originating article. My point is that if it’s in the headline, the quote that inspired the headline should be included. (Side note, that didn’t mention a “disaster” movie)

As for “That’s right, the poorest countries spend the most in response to disasters” – maybe they do, proportionally. If so I would suggest it’s likely because they spend REactively more than PROactively (a direction the US appears to be heading) so they don’t really do much to prepare for disasters. That’s a possibility – but I don’t really care enough about this Patterson’s opinion to look into it.

March 21, 2021 3:11 pm

But if American cinema has taught us anything, it is that ignoring the nerds comes at a price – a big price.”

American Cinema?
In simple terms, these folks believe TV and movies are reality…

March 21, 2021 4:38 pm

That would make John Holdren the character of Wormtongue.

Pat from kerbob
March 21, 2021 5:07 pm

I just about have my kids convinced TV and movies aren’t real.
But they are kids.

What excuse do these clowns have?

Pat from kerbob
March 21, 2021 5:10 pm

The only way to reduce the human cost of severe weather is to reduce the number of humans
The goal all along its just that now they have given up waiting for nature to do it, they are enlisting the most efficient ki!!Ing machine in history to do the job.

Brilliant, you have to give them that, convincing so many people to destroy their own lives is a special talent.

True sales that.

Reply to  Pat from kerbob
March 21, 2021 5:54 pm

Fabian Society of socialists and their supporters call that “Eugenics”.

Cull the human race, retain only those deemed to be productive.

March 21, 2021 5:39 pm

Climate (hoax based) emergency!!!

Go Fund Me please.


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