Disaster Report 2018: We saw some of the worst wildfires California has ever experienced as well as the rapid development of massive storms systems that could only be produced under current global climate conditions. Over the course of the past 3 years we’ve seen an increase in the overall frequency and intensity of Natural Disasters. After the 2017 disaster report ranked as one of the most costly years ever for overall damage from disasters around the world, the 2018 report ranks within the top 4 most costly years within the past 30 years.
The trends for storm damage, wild fires, heat waves, and droughts have only risen, while geological events such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions have remained steady. These trends are indicative of the theories proposed by climate scientists that a warming planet endures more volatile weather patterns, pushing all meteorological & climatological events to extremes yet to be witness in the modern era.
Over the past three years, we have seen an increase in the size and strength of tropical cyclones around the world, most notably the strength and speed of storms emanating in the Caribbean & Gulf of Mexico. Understanding the size and dynamics of these storms will help us better prepare for this trend of super storms.
As we face greater frequency in storms, we also face greater drought conditions. With the continued expansion of human settlements into natural areas, we disrupt the disaster return interval of wild fires and floods, creating higher risk scenarios for uncontrollable burns and flash floods.
This year the California Camp Fire caused the majority of damage and insurance claims for the entire year, costing over $16 billion in total losses.
Although there remain many skeptics of the reality we face with climate change, the truth remains that human impact on our planet is creating unforeseen complications in our environment. We are now in the era of the Anthropocene. We only need to walk the beach in any part of the world to find plastic remains from human waste, and our inability to find balance with the natural world.
Our only responsible action is to pursue a resilient & sustainable means of existence, focusing on preparedness, response, adaptive measures for a changing climate, resource management, and low impact practices for energy production and distribution.
Resilient systems must meet a range of different requirements, based on the fact that resilience covers both preparation and damage limitation, and the ability to respond appropriately following an event… resilience is not a static condition, but rather a characteristic of systems that are adaptive, flexible and constantly evolving. – Munich RE
As the disaster intervals continue to increase in frequency and intensity, and insurance companies cover the brunt of claims for damage and rebuilding disaster struck areas, we should focus these resources on rebuilding with an emphasis of implementing resilient solutions that cater to the habitats for which they exist.
Here is a breakdown of the 2018 disaster report from The Weather Channel & Munich Re:
- California’s Camp Fire was the costliest disaster of 2018 at $16.5 billion.
- Hurricane Michael was second at $16 billion.
- Globally, damage from disasters amounted to $160 billion, which is less than the $360 billion in damage reported by the company in 2017 but still higher than the $140 billion long-term average.
Half of the global overall losses from natural catastrophes in 2018 of US$ 160bn were insured, significantly more than the long-term average
- “There are clear indications of the influence that man-made climate change has had on devastating wildfires in California, which, like last year, again caused billions in losses in 2018,”
- Hurricane Michael was the second costliest disaster of 2018.
- Hurricane Florence, which tore into the Carolinas with heavy rain in September, was 2018’s third costliest disaster at $14 billion.
- Japan was particularly hard-hit with disasters as well in 2018, including at least seven typhoons that either skirted or hit the country’s islands.
- The costliest was Typhoon Jebi with overall losses of $12.5 billion, making it the fourth costliest worldwide.
- The report notes that some 10,400 people lost their lives in 2018 as a result of natural catastrophes, which is below the yearly average of 53,000 deaths over the past 30 years.
- Munich Re notes that human-caused climate change is playing a role in the devastation felt worldwide from disasters.
- “These included the unusual phenomenon of severe tropical cyclones occurring both in the U.S. and Japan while autumn wildfires devastated parts of California. Such massive wildfires appear to be occurring more frequently as a result of climate change.”
- Wildfires are not the only disasters linked to climate change. Studies have also linked global warming with more frequent and deadlier extreme weather events.
- According to a 2013 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the risk of a Hurricane Katrina-level storm surge has risen two to seven times for every 1.8-degree Fahrenheit increase in temperature.
- “A review of existing studies lead us to conclude that it is likely that greenhouse warming will cause hurricanes in the coming century to be more intense globally and have higher rainfall rates than present-day hurricanes,” NOAA says.
- A study released in August 2017 by the European Commission suggested parts of the world may soon experience super heat waves if global warming continues unchecked, with temperatures reaching more than 130 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Munich Re (https://natcatservice.munichre.com/) categorises events from small loss to major disaster according to overall losses and/or number of victims. On this basis, 12% of events in 2018 fall into the highest categories 3 and 4 (severe events and catastrophes). Category 2 makes up 28% and category 1 (small-scale loss events) 60%. This continues the trend towards a greater number of small-scale, high-frequency events with a lower magnitude of loss.