The 10 Costliest Disasters of the Last Decade…Climate Change Amplifies Losses (Photos)
Climate change has increased the cost of natural disasters, insurers and risk modellers said, as rising sea levels and droughts exacerbated floods and wildfires.
The list of the 10 costliest events of the last decade, provided to Reuters by risk modeling firm RMS, all occurred in the last 5 years.
While the biggest losses tend to be in rich countries with the most expensive assets, developing countries like Pakistan, which has suffered flooding this year that has cost an estimated $40 billion, often bear the brunt of the devastating weather. It was a dominant theme at the COP27 climate talks in Egypt and insurance is seen as a way to do this.
Also during the climate conference, a Group of Seven-led plan dubbed the Global Shield was launched to provide pre-arranged insurance and disaster preparedness financing to countries suffering from climate-related disasters.
Disasters are ranked by economic damage, insured and uninsured, and ranked by most expensive first.
1. California wildfires 2017-2018
After several years of drought in California, multiple fires have destroyed more than 100 million trees.
Worst fires: Tubbs Fire October 2017, Camp Fire November 2018
Loss in 2017: around 180 billion dollars
Deaths 2017: 40 people
Loss 2018: about 148.5 billion US dollars
Deaths 2018: 103 people
Total loss: around $328.5 billion
2. Atlantic hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria August-September 2017
The 3 hurricanes devastated parts of Puerto Rico, Florida, the Caribbean and Texas.
Harvey’s loss: approximately $125 billion
Harvey’s death: 88 people
Irma loss: around 65 billion dollars
Irma deaths: 134 people
Maria’s loss: $107 billion
Maria’s death: 4,600 people
Total loss: about $297 billion
3. Australian bushfires 2019-2020
For nearly 11 months, fires have affected 80% of Australians and killed or displaced at least 3 billion animals.
Total damage: about $110 billion
Deaths: 34 people
4. Hurricane Ian, Florida, September 2022
The devastating hurricane hit all of South Carolina and southwest Florida, and with a height of four meters also the west coast of Florida.
Total damage: more than 100 billion dollars
Deaths: 101 people
5. Hurricane Ida, August 2021
The devastating hurricane struck Louisiana, causing flooding in New York and New Jersey and torrential rain.
Total loss: $75 billion
Deaths: 107 people
6. Floods in Germany and Belgium, July 2021
Between July 12 and 15, 2021, torrential rain caused record river levels and left a chain of destruction in its wake, especially in Belgium and Germany as well as in Austria, Switzerland and the Netherlands.
Total damage: 40 billion euros (40.93 billion US dollars)
Deaths: 230 people
7. Pakistan floods from June to August 2022
Heavy monsoon rains and unusually hot temperatures in the Karakoram Mountains triggered unprecedented melting of glacial ice, causing flooding on June 14. The floods displaced 8 million people.
Total Loss: $40 billion (adjusted from original estimate of $3 billion)
Deaths: 1,717 people
8. Typhoons Faxai and Hagibis in Japan from August to October 2019
The two typhoons hit central and eastern Japan, and Faxai caused power outages in 900,000 homes, while more than 7 million people were ordered to evacuate central Japan because of Hagibis.
Faxai loss: about $9.1 billion
Hajjibi’s loss: $17 billion
Hagibis deaths: 85 people
Total loss: $26.1 billion
9. The European Heatwave, Summer 2022
Central Europe suffered from three heatwaves over the summer, including the UK’s highest-ever temperature of 40.3°C (104.54°F).
Total damage: more than 10 billion euros
Dead: 1500 people from excessive heat
10th heat wave in northwestern United States, British Columbia and Canada from June to July 2021
An intense heat wave from June 25 to July 1 in western Canada and the Pacific Northwest United States caused multiple wildfires.
Total loss: $8.9 billion
Deaths: 1400 people from excessive heat
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