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Climate Crisis Costing $16M an Hour in Extreme Weather Damage

Wildfire in Yellowstone National Park
Over the past 20 years climate crisis has cost $16M an hour. Credit: NPS Climate Change Response / Flickr / Public Domain

The impact of the climate crisis, as caused by extreme weather events, has incurred a cost of sixteen million dollars per hour over the course of the past two decades, according to a recent estimate.

These extreme events, including storms, floods, heatwaves, and droughts, have resulted in the loss of lives and widespread destruction of property in recent years.

The worsening of these events is primarily attributed to the escalating effects of global heating, driven by human activities. This study marks the first attempt in quantifying the global financial cost directly linked to human-induced global warming, reported The Guardian.

The study discovered that the average annual costs of extreme weather events amounted to 140 billion dollars (£115 billion) during the period from 2000 to 2019. However, it is important to note that these costs exhibited significant fluctuations from one year to another. The most recent data indicates a substantial increase, with costs amounting to 280 billion dollars in 2022.

Researchers emphasized the accuracy of these figures is likely compromised due to a lack of comprehensive data, particularly in low-income countries.

Moreover, the study did not incorporate additional climate-related costs, such as those resulting from declines in crop yields and the impact of rising sea levels.

1.2 billion people affected by climate crisis over two decades

To produce these estimates, researchers combined data that assessed the extent to which global heating caused extreme weather events with economic data that quantified the resulting losses.

Additionally, their study revealed that over the span of two decades, approximately 1.2 billion people were affected by extreme weather events driven by the climate crisis.

The study’s findings indicate that two-thirds of the overall damage costs resulting from extreme weather events were attributed to the loss of lives, while the remaining one-third was associated with the destruction of property and other assets.

Specifically, the study revealed that storms, such as Hurricane Harvey and Cyclone Nargis, accounted for the largest portion of climate-related costs, comprising two-thirds of the total.

Heatwaves contributed to sixteen percent of these costs, while floods and droughts contributed to ten percent, according to the study.

Calculate funding for loss and damage fund

Researchers have suggested that their methodology could be applied in the calculation of the required funding for a loss and damage fund established at the UN’s climate summit in 2022. This fund aims to provide financial support for recovery efforts in poorer countries affected by extreme weather disasters.

Additionally, their approach could facilitate the quick determination of the climate-related costs associated with individual disasters, according to researchers.

Professor Ilan Noy from the Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand, who conducted the study in collaboration with colleague Rebecca Newman, remarked that the headline number is 140 billion dollars a year, and, first of all, that’s already a substantial figure.

He went on to point out that when you compare this estimate to the standard calculations of the cost of climate change made using computer models, it becomes apparent those conventional calculations tend to underestimate the true impact of climate change.

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