AFR: 10 Climate Disasters in 5 Years Cost $1.5 Trillion

Essay by Eric Worrall

AFR vaguely claims that climate change is making weather related disasters worse – but make no attempt to present evidence to back this claim.

These 10 climate disasters cost $1.5 trillion in just five years

Reuters
Nov 22, 2022 – 8.58am

Climate change has raised the cost of natural disasters, as rising sea levels and drought increase the frequency and severity of flooding and wildfires, insurers and risk modelling experts say.

The cost of the 10 most expensive events of the last decade adds up to more than $US1 trillion ($1.5 trillion). All of them occurred in the last five years.

The biggest losses are usually in richer countries with more expensive assets – the 2019-2020 bushfires in Australia are third on the list with a cost of $US110 billion ($167 billion). But developing countries such as Pakistan, which suffered flooding this year that cost an estimated $US40 billion also bear the brunt of damaging weather. The list was provided to Reuters by risk modelling firm RMS.

Read more: https://www.afr.com/policy/energy-and-climate/these-10-climate-disasters-cost-1-5-trillion-in-just-five-years-20221122-p5c06k

The 10 “climate disasters”:

  • California wildfires (2017 to 2018) – 3 fires, $180 billion, $148.5 billion, $328.5 billion, 143 deaths.
  • Atlantic hurricanes Harvey $125 billion (88 deaths), Irma $65 billion (134 deaths), Maria $107 billion (4600 deaths) (August to September 2017)
  • Aussie bushfires 2019-20 – $110 billion (34 deaths)
  • Hurricane Ian – $75 billion (101 deaths)
  • Hurricane Ida – $75 billion (107 deaths)
  • German / Belgian Floods 2021 $40 billion (230 deaths)
  • Pakistan floods 2022: $40 billion (1717 deaths)
  • Japan Typhoons 2019 $26.1 billion (85 deaths)
  • European heatwave 2022 €10 billion (1500 deaths)
  • US / Canada Heatwave 2021 $8.9 billion (1400 deaths)

Interestingly AFR forgot to include cold related deaths, which far outnumber heat related deaths. For example, in 2021 63,000 people died from cold in Britain. It wouldn’t take much global warming to save 10s of thousands of lives every winter, if that warming delivered milder winters – and that is just in Britain.

AFR also fail to mention the benefits of our energy rich fossil fuel powered civilisation, like better communications and satellite weather warnings which allow people to be evacuated before major storms strike, and stronger, more storm resistant homes, which have massively reduced deaths from natural disasters over the last century (see the graph at the top of the page).

Have disaster costs increased? By some metrics yes, but a naive measure of disaster costs does not account for rising population, rising wealth (more expensive houses in the path of disasters), and other issues such as pervasive poor forestry management in recent decades contributing to the ferocity of forest fires. A more detailed discussion of disaster costs is available here. My impression, once you account for such factors, there is no evidence climate change is contributing to the cost of disasters.

Regardless of whether you agree with my claims on disaster costs or the other points I made, my biggest criticism of the AFR article is they simply didn’t present their own analysis. How much of that $1.5 trillion do they blame on climate change, vs natural storms which would have happened anyway? It is almost as if they want readers to assume ALL the costs are climate related, which would be an utter absurdity.

Next time AFR, try informing your readers by providing some context.

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Dodgy Geezer
November 22, 2022 10:48 pm

There is no need to provide evidence for these claims, and calling for it shows that you misunderstand the situation completely.

Global Warming is NOT a Science, where evidence and proof are important. It is a RELIGION, and the important requirement is to believe and have faith.

These stories help the faithful to keep believing. They are akin to the posters found outside churches. Treating them as if they were issues to be dispassionately debated completely misses the point….

Last edited 6 days ago by Dodgy Geezer
Scissor
Reply to  Dodgy Geezer
November 23, 2022 5:20 am

If you’re lucky, some high priestess might let you have a beeswax candle.

DMacKenzie
November 22, 2022 11:03 pm

The heatwave death numbers are just nonsense. The majority of deaths were people who died during a heat wave from existing respiratory conditions of some sort. Show us the death certificates…It’s the old statistical deaths can be whatever the bleeding heart agenda needs…..

Earthling2
November 22, 2022 11:04 pm

At the beginging of the 20th century, there were less than 2 billion people on the planet, and very little advanced development in the world, and in fact,much of the world then was not even settled by any advanced fixed society that would endure harm. Tribal hunters and gatherers would usually just get out of the way of any serious weather and hunker down and wait it out and pull up stakes and move somewhere else. There wasn’t as much to destroy as compared to today.

But now we have 8 billion people on the planet, having built very complex societies and infrastructure in every flood plain and on nearly every mile of ocean front property. Of course there is going to be massive monetary damage every time there is inclement weather, or a fire, or a flood. This is all just a numbers/statistics game, and the wool is getting pulled over the eyes of nearly everyone. How can everyone just ignore the obvious?

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Earthling2
November 23, 2022 5:33 am

“How can everyone just ignore the obvious?”

If it bleeds it leads.

DD More
Reply to  Earthling2
November 23, 2022 1:14 pm

And
$100 in 1900 is equivalent in purchasing power to about $3,547.76 today, an increase of $3,447.76 over 122 years, producing a cumulative price increase of 3,447.76%.
This means that today’s prices are 35.48 times higher than average prices since 1900, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics consumer price index. A dollar today only buys 2.819% of what it could buy back then.

But that’s just more numbers/statistics, and rarely taken into account.

strativarius
November 23, 2022 12:34 am

“”Have disaster costs increased? “”

Sunak is working on it – whatever the weather

Ron Long
November 23, 2022 1:43 am

Good report by Eric. The Figure at the start Climate Related Death Risk, is interesting, in that it has an inflection point (1975 or so), and then turns asymptotic to present. Without any obvious large climate cycle changes, like glacial phase, or Snowball Earth, or Eocene Temperature Maximum, there does not appear an obvious reason for the inflection/asymptotic change.

abolition man
Reply to  Ron Long
November 23, 2022 9:16 am

Ron,
Probably a combination of factors. Increasing population pushes CRDR back up from it’s downward slide, and increased residency in disaster prone areas like coasts and flood plains adds a bit, too.
One factor that doesn’t get nearly enough attention is government mismanagement! How many lives have been lost in Commiefornia the last few years due to their “Green” forestry policies? Other totalitarian and Communist countries have dismal records as well. Then add in corruption, like the practice of removing rebar from foundations after passing inspection that has occurred in some Third World nations, and you get another upward pressure on death risk.
I must say that it feels quite strange to speak of the Third World, now that the US has nearly completed it’s transition into a banana republic!

Drake
Reply to  abolition man
November 23, 2022 2:43 pm

“removing rebar from foundations after passing inspection”

As a building inspector I saw that happen with block walls here in the US. In Las Vegas, NV.

I saw actual corrupt contractors who placed the incorrect rebar in foundations of buildings. It MUST have been the contractor, since the wrong size rebar was delivered to the site. The workers just placed the smaller rebar where rebar was shown on the plans.

Boy, they (the contractors) were really unhappy when they had to get an engineering fix and place extra rebar to make up for the wrong size. That was easier and cheaper than removing the wrong size and redoing it with the correct size.

One time I showed up on site of a large house in an area I didn’t usually inspect. I had the contractor get the structural plans and began my inspection, discovering multiple issues with rebar placement and placement of Post Tension cables both for location and size. Shortly after I had started the inspection, my supervisor showed up. The contractor had called him. The job was of such “complexity” that the Building Code required the owner to hire a “Special Inspector”. A third party contracted inspection company. Apparently the structural “special inspection” had already been completed and APPROVED. My supervisor sent my on my way after I completed the portion of MY inspection, plumbing, electrical, etc. that were in the slab to be poured. Shortly after this fiasco, City inspectors began doing spot checks of special inspector inspections, at the beginning on 50% or so of the inspections, eventually backing off to about10%. Every failed audit inspection was charged a penalty and the 15 dollar an hour labor the “special inspection” engineering firms hired began getting serious training.

And to the Chicago way. I had a plumbing contractor’s foreman who was just really bad. He could not seem to get ANY installation right. One time, after failing yet another inspection, this time for back grade on underground waste piping (Sh!t would need to flow UPhill to drain) he stated “I wish we were in Chicago, there we would decide how much each inspection would cost at the beginning of the job and I would never have these problems!”

What a country!

RobK
Reply to  Ron Long
November 23, 2022 12:36 pm

Ron,
The chart is death rate per million people. The rate of world population increase according to https://ourworldindata.org/world-population-growth#how-has-world-population-growth-changed-over-time :
“The global population growth rate peaked long ago. The chart shows that global population growth reached a peak in 1962 and 1963 with an annual growth rate of 2.2%; but since then, world population growth has halved.
For the last half-century we have lived in a world in which the population growth rate has been declining. The UN projects that this decline will continue in the coming decades.”

This would contribute to the point of inflection since the chart is rate of death per million people.

Martin Brumby
November 23, 2022 1:57 am

None of the ten are remotely “unprecedented” without torturing the data and ignoring various confounding factors. In most cases sensible precautions, properly planned warning systems, evacuations, better construction and maintenance would have reduced markedly all these tragedies.

Strange that ‘gain of function’ monkeying with viruses, imposition of ludicrous and damaging ‘non-pharmecutical interventions’ and mandating unnecessary unsafe and ineffective experimental gene ‘therapies’ and all the rest doesn’t get even a footnote. Although true costs and deaths likely higher than their “top ten” put together.

Then there is the demonisation of a harmless trace gas essential to all life on Earth and the ridiculous pursuit of GangGreen Ruinable Energy. That will cost the lives of tens of millions of the world’s most vulnerable and the destruction of Western Civilisation.

Don’t talk to me about pathetic, vastly exaggerated, easily managed “heatwaves”!

MarkW
Reply to  Martin Brumby
November 23, 2022 7:46 am

The Atlantic hurricanes only look like an increase because we are coming out of a 20 year drought. If you examine all the data, which the BBC says climate reporters are under no obligation to do, the trend disappears completely.

Last edited 5 days ago by MarkW
James Snook
November 23, 2022 3:39 am

Pakistan floods are the alarmist ‘meme of the month’.

Wild claims of 30% 0f the country underwater have been debunked, it was nearer to 10%. Extreme monsoons such as the recent one occur from time to time, but the effect on the population has worsened simply because it has grown by ca.five times in the last sixty years and all of the settlement is in the Punjab and Sind, where the Indus and it’s feeder rivers lie.

The Pakistan Government vociferously demanded restitution at COP for what is really a population explosion. They shouldn’t get a penny.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  James Snook
November 23, 2022 5:58 am

Aren’t there a few hundred million people living in that flood plain? And, it’s a flood plain because it’s flooded thousands if not millions of times in geologic times- long before “carbon pollution”. Same for Bangladesh.

James Snook
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
November 23, 2022 7:22 am

And the Sunderbans like other delta regions, including the Mekong Delta, are sinking because upstream development, including Hydro, are reducing the flow of sediments that are essential to maintain the deltas. Ground water extraction is another cause.

hiskorr
Reply to  James Snook
November 23, 2022 6:01 am

Of the $1.5T in “climate change damages” claimed, Pakistan is the only “undeveloped” country listed — at less than 3% of total “damages”. Therefore, it makes perfect sense for the “developed” world to dole out money to the “undeveloped” as compensation, right? /s

David Dibbell
November 23, 2022 4:03 am

Good points, Eric. My first question was, who is AFR? Found it.
At the bottom of the web article:
“© Copyright 2022 The Australian Financial Review, Nine Entertainment Company”

I see entertainment is involved. Makes sense. The drumbeat of climate doom feeds a need for the senses to be occupied. Same reason disaster movies attract viewers.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  David Dibbell
November 23, 2022 6:02 am

“Same reason disaster movies attract viewers.”

Like Avatar- which is all about the evil white Earthlings going there to ruthlessly exploit the planet for “unobtainium” against the wishes of the native blue “people”. Those nasty white Earthlings use gigantic machines to knock down the forests and rip up the landscape.

Regardless, it’s my all time favorite film. A good one to watch on weed. 🙂

MarkW
November 23, 2022 7:43 am

As the recent article on the BBC demonstrates, the authors feel themselves to be free to select whatever data they please, and to ignore whatever evidence doesn’t suit the story they are trying to sell.

abolition man
November 23, 2022 9:34 am

Great article, Eric!
You DID make one little mistake in the penultimate sentence, however.
“It is almost as if they want readers to assume ALL costs are climate related…” Almost!?
Sorry, but I grow weary of religious zealots haranguing me about how sinful and evil I am for attempting to enjoy the fruits of human civilization.
The Climastrology proselytizers are like a particular obnoxious missionary who comes to your door to convert you, but is not content to speak on the front porch; he wants to push into your house and remonstrate you for sinning as he throws your belongings around the rooms. An inversion of Jesus and the money changers; where they go after the poor and the working class while kowtowing obsequiously to the wealthy!

Bruce Cobb
November 23, 2022 12:04 pm

The Climate Caterwaulers had to change their narrative to include bad weather, droughts, floods, and fires because they knew it would get more headlines and allow them to blather non-stop about their “climate change” nonsense, and would more easily sway sheeple. All lies, of course, but so believable by people with no intellectual capacity to discern the difference. It’s genius.

DanT
November 23, 2022 12:35 pm

Why are these now “climate” events? They are weather events and always have been. Yes, disruptive, but climate changing events? No way.

Tom Abbott
November 24, 2022 4:42 am

From the article: “AFR vaguely claims that climate change is making weather related disasters worse – but make no attempt to present evidence to back this claim.”

That’s because they don’t have any evidence to present.

John in Oz
November 24, 2022 2:45 pm

In Oz in July 2022 (abs.gov.au data) we had deaths due to:

Cancer – 4,265
Dementia – 1,598
Respiratory disease – 1,482
Ischemic heart disease – 1,423
COVID 19 – 1,310
Diabetes – 569

Let’s fix these issues before trying to save our not-yet-existing future family members who won’t be around if we die from any of the above (plus many other causes)

timsters
November 27, 2022 3:08 pm

The 63,000 excess deaths reference links to UK covid deaths in 2020/21 not cold deaths – undermines the argument.
Apparently the author has provided shoddy evidence himself here which is disappointing

Last edited 1 day ago by timsters
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