Tuesday 11 January 2022

How much do natural disasters cost the world?


Above chart from the Centre for Research into the Epidemiology of Disasters, (CRED) which is the world's go-to database for disasters. For Europe, it shows a trend line (red dotted line, added by me), for “Weather-relatedevents only, has been downwards in the last two decades).

All natural disasters for the WORLD:

The above chart is from Our World in Data. (OWiD), which in turn draws on the CRED data base.  It shows the cost worldwide of all natural disasters. The trend is up, by about 6% pa. 

Climate-only natural disasters for the WORLD:
The above chart is also from Our World in Data, . It shows the cost of worldwide natural disasters, but I’ve netted out earthquakes, which are not climate-related. (I’m guessing Tsunamis are included in Earthquakes). The trend is up, by about 4% per year. 

Summary: the cost of natural disasters in the last two decades is:
  • All disasters: $US 130 billion per year
  • Climate-related disasters only: $US 94 billion per year
  • 2019 World GDP: $US 88,000 billion
  • Climate-related disaster costs per year as percent of world GDP = 0.107%
NOTE: I have worked on some of the figures from CRED and OWiD, to add trendlines, to net out non-climate related disasters, to calculate average growth rates, etc. My workbook is here.

I don’t post this to deny the reality of climate change or to downplay its importance. I’m doing this in response to a report on Germany’s DW TV, which I saw last night, making really scary noises about climate-related disasters in 2021, reported in most apocalyptic terms. 
Yes, these disasters are serious, and especially the lives lost. 
But they are not as dramatically worse than they have been in recent decades. In my view that’s important to know, because it means we can get a grip on climate change, to mitigate the costs in lives and money, whereas the apocalyptic view means many people simply lose hope. That’s particularly the case with young people -- who, polls show, are scared and fatalistic about climate change. No. Things are bad, but no so's they can’t be improved. 
And on that -- Nuclear, baby! And The Nuclear Option