Climate change is getting expensive. Coming off the hottest June on record, the United States so far in 2016 has experienced eight weather and climate-related disasters that have met or exceeded $1 billion, resulting in 30 deaths and damages totaling $13.1 billion. The analysis by NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) doesn’t include the late-June flooding in West Virginia which is still being assessed and could add to the number of billion-dollar disaster events. According to the analysis, the first six months of 2016 are well above average for the number of billion-dollar weather and climate events compared to this point in previous years.
The events included two floods and six severe storms. On April 17 and 18, Houston and surrounding suburbs were inundated with up to 17 inches of rainfall, damaging more than 1,000 homes and businesses and leading to more than 1,800 high water rescues. The other seven events included February tornadoes across the southeastern and eastern states; March flooding in Texas and Louisiana; severe weather in March across Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi, including hail and high winds; a March hail storm in north Texas and an April hail storm in north and central Texas; tornadoes across the south and southeastern states; and tornadoes and severe storms in the Rockies and central states, including Montana, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri and Texas.
Related: Lethal extreme heat and wildfires scorch the American southwest
The costliest event so far this year was the hail damage across north and central Texas, totaling $3.5 billion. The deadliest event was February’s 50 confirmed tornadoes across the southeastern and eastern states that killed 10 people. In 2015, the U.S. experienced a total of 10 billion-dollar weather and climate-related disasters that resulted in 155 deaths and cost more than $22 billion in economic damages. The Western drought throughout 2015 cost $4.5 billion while December tornadoes in Texas and flooding in the Midwest resulted in 50 lives lost.
Since 1980, the U.S. has experienced 196 billion-dollar weather and climate disasters with the total cost exceeding $1.1 trillion. While worldwide efforts to mitigate climate change are accelerating in the wake of the Paris climate agreement, a recent study from Stanford and U.C. Berkeley found that global warming could have major economic costs if not addressed, reducing global GDP by more than 20 percent by 2100. With the economic costs of climate change continuing to rise along with the temperature, policymakers could be under increasing pressure to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions and restore ecosystems among other measures to reverse global warming.
+ National Centers for Environmental Information
Images via Texas National Guard