July 29, 2011

Data point: Billion-dollar disasters on the rise

Posted by: in North America

This year, the United States has experienced some of the most substantial damage from national disasters and, according to a report from the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC), things are only going to get worse. As the agency’s infographic illustrates, the number of events per year that exceed a cost of one billion dollars in damages has been steadily climbing over the last three decades. Indeed, while the average cost from weather damage at this point of the year is close to $6 billion, we’ve already seen costs of $32 billion for the disasters that have occurred so far in 2011.

While the report is limited to the U.S., it has interesting implications globally. The NCDC points to a growing population and its migration into high-risk areas as a factor in these disasters. However, it suggests that one of the key causes is climate change in general—rising carbon emissions, which contribute to a warmer and more moisture absorbing atmosphere. This information seems to indicate the precariousness of population growth and the demands it places on the environment. If climate change does indeed exist, it appears that we’ll have to brace ourselves for more damage, and more expenditures, in the future.

3 Responses to "Data point: Billion-dollar disasters on the rise"

1 | @euonymous

August 1st, 2011 at 6:09 pm


Warren Buffet noted some years back that he thought the insurance industry wasn’t setting aside enough money to pay for the huge disasters that happen (like hurricane Andrew, remember him?) every once in a while. I have noticed that the number of big disasters has increased. It makes me wonder about the viability of property insurance companies and re-insurers. What happens if they start to flounder? We can’t bail them out, too.

2 | moving-from-DC-to-the-UK-soon

August 8th, 2011 at 4:09 pm


Glad to see such an important trend on this blog. While more damage and expenditures will surely come, brands that help address this fundamental issue of national disasters (whether natural or man-made) can capitalize on the trend. Dawn soap commericals following the Gulf of Mexico oil spill are one great example that comes to mind: . Doing some good for the environment, as well as for the brand/company–now that’s a winner.

3 | Will Palley

January 13th, 2012 at 1:55 pm


Billion-dollar disasters are on the rise outside the U.S., as well. This report from The Economist concisely shows where these events are occurring and the costs incurred. http://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2012/01/daily-chart-4

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