KISTERS reports US storm disasters account for US$1tn this decade

The team at KISTERS, a global company in environmental monitoring and data management, has produced a report to show the impact of climate disasters. By utilising data from the International Disaster Database (EM-DAT), the growth in the cost of climate disasters with GDP growth per country is compared.

Several developed nations are on course to financial catastrophe, according to KISTERS. Furthermore, the group reported that the US is vulnerable, reporting that the country will likely see huge financial difficulties and possible bankruptcy if the status quo continues. 

Since 1900, there have been 12,449 natural disasters across the globe, accounting for droughts, floods, wildfires, storms and extreme temperatures. These events have cost the global economy over US$5tn in damages. The number of natural disasters worldwide has climbed 57% each decade since the turn of the 20th century. 

The cost of natural disasters is growing at a rate of almost double that the frequency of natural disasters
Since 1900, the average cost of natural disasters worldwide has effectively doubled every decade — at 102%

The US natural disaster problem

From 1990 to 2019, the costs of natural disasters in the US have averaged almost $47.7bn/year, with an annual growth rate of 11.48%.

The effective compounding of natural disaster damage means their costs will overtake US GDP in less than 100 years, or 2094, as KISTERS projections estimate

The US is one of the few countries that suffers from all five of the worst natural disasters. Droughts, floods, wildfires, storms, and extreme temperatures all cost the country $673bn in damages from 2010-2019, and with an overall growth rate of 11.48% per year, the problem will worsen. At this pace, natural disasters are set to cost the US economy $1.8tn throughout 2020-2029. The cost of the damage of storms makes up $1tn of those damages.

KISTERS senior meteorologist Johan Jacques said, “The findings of this study are a stark reminder that climate change is not a distant problem, it is here, and its economic ramifications are already being felt.

“It is concerning that the US is on track to experience $1tn in losses in this decade due to natural disasters. This is unprecedented and highlights the urgency with which we need to address the issue of climate change. Climate change is not an environmental issue. It is a profound economic challenge. The potential bankruptcy of a country like the US would have far-reaching impacts, not just domestically but globally.”

He added that, however, measures such as investing in climate resilience, improving infrastructure, adopting sustainable practices, and moving towards a low-carbon economy can be taken to mitigate these risks, and this study is a call to action.

“It shows that the cost of inaction is greater than the cost of taking measures to mitigate climate change,” he said. “We must shift our approach from reactive to proactive, focusing on dealing with the aftermath of natural disasters [and] on preventing their impact through climate action.”