UK-based charity Christian Aid calculates the cost of weather incidents like flooding, fires and heat waves according to insurance claims each year and it found that for 2020, the world’s ten costliest weather disasters caused $!50 billion in damage, making this year’s total an increase of 13% compared to the previous year.
The ten most expensive weather disasters this year caused more than $170 billion in damage, $20 billion more than 2020. Topping the list was hurricane Ida, which lashed the eastern United States, causing around $65 billion in damage as it crashed into Louisiana and made its way northward, causing extensive flooding in New York City and surrounding areas.
Spectacular and deadly flooding in Germany and Belgium in July was next on the list at $43 billion in losses. A cold snap and winter storm in Texas that took out the state’s power grid cost $23 billion, followed by flooding in China’s Henan province that cost an estimated $17.6 billion.
The report acknowledged its evaluation mainly covers disasters in rich countries where infrastructure is better insured and that the financial toll of disasters on poor countries is often incalculable.
That would most probably include the massive damage wrought upon the Philippines by Typhoon Odette last week.
Christian Aid said the upward trend reflects the effects of man-made climate change. What is sad is the most devastating weather events have hit the poorer nations that have contributed little to causing climate change.
The past week has shown us that the weather disasters most likely caused by climate change are a real and continuous threat, especially to countries like the Philippines that are highly vulnerable because of geography and government’s poor level of preparedness to quickly and efficiently respond to massive destruction that results in the loss of critical public utilities such as electricity, water and communications.
If we cannot stop or slow down climate change, extreme weather phenomena are now a fact of life. Lowering the impact and cost of such potentially deadly and destructive events, as well as the speed of recovery of affected communities, will depend on our level of preparedness.
Typhoon Odette exposed just how unprepared we still are, despite our unforgettable experience with Typhoon Yolanda in 2013. If the Philippine government cannot do better in this regard, it is the Filipino people who will bear the extreme cost of extreme weather events.
As cost of weather incidents increase, so should the general level of preparedness because that is the only thing we can do to slow down nature’s wrath while protecting our homes and businesses.*