The main meteorological catastrophes that hit the United States in 2022, caused at least $165 billion in damageaccording to a federal report released Tuesday, which blames the effects of climate change.
It is the third highest annual amount since the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Office (NOAAfor its acronym in English) began collecting these data in 1980. The disaster Costliest of 2022 was Hurricane Ianwhich devastated Florida in September, leaving $112.9 billion in damage.
The other two years with the highest costs for destruction were 2005 (Hurricane Katrina) y 2017 (Hurricanes Harvey and Irma).
The hurricane Ian was by far the most expensive disaster in the worldaccording to a report by reinsurer Munich Re, also published Tuesday, which estimated total losses at $270 billion.
“In the United States, we have consistently had the highest number, more than any other country each year, and the greatest diversity of types of extreme weather events,” said NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad.
“Climate change is creating more and more extreme events that cause significant damage and often cause cascading hazards, such as intense droughts followed by devastating fires, followed by floods and dangerous landslides,” he added.
For the calculation, NOAA takes into account the destruction of buildings, public infrastructure (bridges, roads…), loss of company profits and even the effects on agriculture, but not indirect costs or healthcare costs.
After Ian, the second most expensive disaster of 2022 it was the heat wave and drought that struck the western and central United States, at a cost of more than $22 billion.
The United States experienced 18 weather catastrophes in 2022, also making it the third-most severe weather year, behind 2020 and 2021.
The report noted that the figures do not reflect the cost or total number of these weather and climate disasters last year, but only those that caused more than $1 billion in damage.
The concentration of major weather disasters in recent years points to “a new normal,” NOAA warned.
Between 1980 and 2022, the annual average number of disasters of this type was eight, but in the last five years it shot up to 17.8.
Climate change “amplifies the frequency and intensity of certain types of weather events,” NOAA stressed, citing droughts, longer fire seasons and rising sea levels worsening storm flooding.
According to an analysis by the research group Rhodium Group, greenhouse gas emissions in the United States increased slightly in 2022 compared to the previous year (+1.3%).
Globally, the last eight years have been the warmest. In all of them, pre-industrial temperatures rose by more than a degree, according to the annual report of the European program on climate change Copernicus, also published on Tuesday.
On a global scale, Hurricane Ian was by far the costliest, but last year there was also a severe drought in Europe (about 20 billion) and floods in china (12,000 million).
These data reveal “the financial cost of inaction on the climate crisis,” said Patrick Watt, director of Christian Aid. And “behind these dollar numbers are millions of human stories of loss and suffering.”
The 18 2022 disasters identified by NOAA in the United States killed more than 470 people, according to the report.
And the $165 billion falls short because it doesn’t include the costs of the extreme cold snap that hit the United States in December.
Over the years the largest disasters account for a growing proportion, according to the agency (about 85% in 2022).
Climate change is responsible for the greater frequency, but the increase in costs is partly due to population growth (and therefore the accumulation of goods) in risk areas, for example on the coast.
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