Center for American Progress

We Need to Reduce Our Risk for Climate-Related Extreme Weather
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We Need to Reduce Our Risk for Climate-Related Extreme Weather

A new CAP column takes an updated look at the costs of climate-related extreme weather.

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The United States was subjected to many severe climate-related extreme weather over the past two years. In 2011 there were 14 extreme weather events—floods, drought, storms, and wildfires—that each caused at least $1 billion in damage. There were another 11 such disasters in 2012. These extreme weather events reflect part of the unpaid bill from climate change—a tab that will only grow over time.

CAP recently documented the human and economic toll from these devastating events in our November 2012 report “Heavy Weather: How Climate Destruction Harms Middle- and Lower- Income Americans.” Since the release of that report, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, has updated its list of “billion-dollar”-damage weather events for 2012, bringing the two-year total to 25 incidents.

From 2011 to 2012 these 25 “billion-dollar damage” weather events in the United States are estimated to have caused up to $188 billion in total damage. The two costliest events were the September 2012 drought—the worst drought in half a century, which baked nearly two-thirds of the continental United States—and superstorm Sandy, which battered the northeast coast in late October 2012. The four recently added disastrous weather events were severe tornadoes and thunderstorms.

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