Quantcast
Climate
The Thomas Fire burns in the hills above Los Padres National Forest in Dec. 2017. Forest Service / Stuart Palley

2017 Weather and Climate Disasters Cost U.S. Record $306 Billion

2017, one of the hottest years in modern history, was also an extremely costly year. According to a new report from the National Centers for Environmental Information, a division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), "the U.S. experienced 16 weather and climate disasters with losses exceeding $1 billion, with total costs of approximately $306 billion—a new U.S. annual record."


The federal agency listed several noteworthy events, including the wildfires in the west, with total costs of $18 billion, tripling the previous U.S. annual wildfire cost record.

The year's string of devastating hurricanes were also very expensive. Hurricane Harvey had total costs of $125 billion. Hurricanes Maria and Irma had total costs of $90 billion and $50 billion, respectively.

2005 was the previous most expensive year for the U.S., with losses of $215 billion mostly due to Hurricanes Katrina, Wilma and Rita.

The tropical cyclones, storms, floods, a crop freeze, drought and wildfires in 2017 were not only costly financially—they also caused a total of 362 direct fatalities, the report said.

With 16 billion-dollar disasters in 2017, the U.S. has now experienced 219 weather and climate disasters since 1980—total losses exceed $1.5 trillion.NOAA NCEI Climate

The report noted that 2017 was the third warmest year since record keeping began in 1895. The average annual temperature for the contiguous U.S. last year was 54.6 degrees Fahrenheit, 2.6 degrees above the 20th century average.

A separate announcement from the Copernicus Climate Change Service, a major international weather agency, recently ranked 2017 as the second-hottest year.

"It's striking that 16 of the 17 warmest years have all been this century," Jean-Noel Thepaut, head of Copernicus, told Reuters, noting the overwhelming scientific consensus that man-made emissions have exacerbated Earth's rising temperatures.

The NOAA report highlights the extreme costs of climate and weather disasters despite President Donald Trump and his administration's skepticismand downright indifference—towards climate policy, from pulling the U.S. out of the Paris agreement to dropping climate change from the list of national security threats.

Trump said in June after withdrawing the country out of the global climate accord: "I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris."

He claimed the Paris agreement "hamstrings the United States while empowering some of the world's top polluting countries."

Last month, the president unveiled a new national security strategy that reversed an Obama-era declaration that placed climate change as a major threat facing the nation.

Rather, Trump's "America First" plan focuses on four themes surrounding economic security for the U.S: “protecting the homeland and way of life; promoting American prosperity; demonstrating peace through strength; and advancing American influence in an ever-competitive world," the Associated Press reported, quoting senior administration officials.

A draft document of the national security strategy showed that the Trump administration would actively oppose efforts to reduce the burning of fossil fuels for energy, which emits greenhouse gases that drive global warming.

"U.S. leadership is indispensable to countering an anti-growth, energy agenda that is detrimental to U.S. economic and energy security interests," the document stated.

“Given future global energy demand, much of the developing world will require fossil fuels, as well as other forms of energy, to power their economies and lift their people out of poverty."

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Popular
Malte Mueller / Getty Images

When Profit Drives Us, Community Suffers

By David Korten

As I was reading the current series of YES! articles on the mental health crisis, I received an email from Darcia Narvaez, professor of psychology at University of Notre Dame. She was sending me articles being prepared for an anthology she is co-editing with the working title Sustainable Vision.The articles present lessons from indigenous culture that underscore why community is the solution to so much of what currently ails humanity.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
The Revelator

Interactive Map: Air Pollution in 2100

By Dipika Kadaba

Having a little trouble breathing lately? That's no surprise. Air pollution is already bad in many parts of the country, and climate change is only going to make it worse. Even though many industries are reducing their emissions, a warming climate could actually offset these reductions by intensifying the rates of chemical reactions and accumulation of pollutants in the environment.

Keep reading... Show less
Health
ddukang / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Is Apple Cider Vinegar Good for You? A Doctor Weighs In

By Gabriel Neal

When my brother and I were kids back in the '80s, we loved going to Long John Silver's.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals

Dumpster Debacle Distracts From Serious Spike in Whale Deaths

This week, a video of a failed attempt to put a dead, 4,000-pound whale into a tiny dumpster made the rounds on the internet, garnering chuckles and comparisons to Peter Griffin forklifting and impaling a beached sperm whale on Family Guy.

The juvenile minke whale washed up on Jenness Beach in Rye, New Hampshire on Monday morning, NBC 10 Boston reported. It was found with entanglement wounds, so researchers with the Seacoast Science Center and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) wanted to move the carcass from the beach to a lab for a necropsy to study its death.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Adventure
Muir Woods, which costs $10 for entry, will have free entry on Sept. 22. m01229 / Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0

Visit Any National Park for Free This Saturday to Celebrate 25th National Public Lands Day

If you're stuck for plans this weekend, we suggest escaping your city or town for the great outdoors.

This Saturday marks the 25th National Public Lands Day, organized by the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF).

Keep reading... Show less
Climate
A glacier flows towards East Antarctica. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center / CC BY 2.0

Temperatures Possible This Century Could Melt Parts of East Antarctic Ice Sheet, Raise Sea Levels 10+ Feet

A section of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet that contains three to four meters (approximately 10 to 13 feet) of potential sea level rise could melt if temperatures rise to just two degrees above pre-industrial levels, a study published in Nature Wednesday found.

Researchers at Imperial College London, the University of Queensland, and other institutions in New Zealand, Japan and Spain looked at marine sediments to assess the behavior of the Wilkes Subglacial Basin during warmer periods of the Pleistocene and found evidence of melting when temperatures in Antarctica were at least two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels for periods of 2,500 years or more.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Energy
Oil well in North Dakota. Tim Evanson / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Pipeline Leaks 63,840 Gallons of Produced Water in North Dakota

A pipeline released 63,840 gallons (1,520 barrels) of produced water that contaminated rangeland in Dunn County, North Dakota, the Bismarck Tribune reported, citing officials with the North Dakota Department of Health.

Produced water is a byproduct of oil and gas extraction, and can contain drilling chemicals if fracking was used.

Keep reading... Show less
Insights
Residents stand in a long queue to fill water containers on May 27 in Shimla, India. Deepak Sansta / Hindustan Times / Getty Images

World Peace Requires Access to Safe Water

International Peace Day is Sept. 21. Mekela Panditharatne, attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council, submitted the following op-ed to EcoWatch in commemoration.

In drought-ravaged East Africa, the cracks in the plains echo the fault lines splitting tribes.

Across the globe, the devastation of deadly brawls is being exacerbated by tensions over access to water. Water crises, often worsened by governance failures, can portend warning signs for instability and conflict. This year, the World Resources Institute cautioned that water stress is growing globally, "with 33 countries projected to face extremely high stress in 2040." The effects of such water stress span the gamut from civil unrest to open warfare.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!