7 Climate Disasters That Cost More Than $10 Billion in 2019
The report, published Friday, identified seven disasters that cost $10 billion or more, and 15 disasters that cost more than $1 billion, according to a press summary. That's up from last year, when the group highlighted 10 disasters that cost more than $1 billion and four that cost more than $7 billion.
"If anything 2019 saw even more profound extreme weather events around the world than last year, including wildfires from the Amazon through to the Arctic, devastating out-of-season, simultaneous wildfires in California and Australia, winter heat waves and devastating superstorms," Pennsylvania State University climate scientist professor Michael Mann said in the press release. "With each day now we are seemingly reminded of the cost of climate inaction in the form of ever-threatening climate change-spiked weather extremes."
The group wrote that they likely underestimated the true cost of the disasters they studied because in some cases they could only account for insured losses, not uninsured losses or lost productivity. The report was also published before the cost of Australia's devastating wildfire season could be calculated, The Guardian pointed out.
Here are the seven climate-related disasters that cost $10 billion or more in 2019, according to the report.
- California Wildfires, $25 Billion: The costliest extreme weather events of 2019 included in the report were the wildfires that burned through California in October and November. The area burned in California each year has quintupled since 1972, mostly because higher temperatures have dried forests, creating more fuel for the flames.
- Typhoon Hagibis in Japan, $15 Billion: Typhoon Hagibis hit Japan in October with winds of up to 225 kilometers (approximately 140 miles) per hour. It was one of the strongest storms to pummel the country in decades and killed 98 people. The storm also intensified at the fastest rate in 23 years, and warmer oceans have been linked to more intense storms.
- Midwest and Southern Flooding, $12.5 Billion: The flooding that devastated the Midwestern and Southern U.S. between March and June has been linked to climate change. Warmer air can hold more moisture, increasing the likelihood of extreme rain and snow falls.
- Flooding in China, $12 Billion: Heavy rain from June to August led to massive flooding in southern and eastern China, killing at least 300 people. More rain in China is expected to fall in heavy downpours because of the climate crisis, and parts of the country saw their highest rainfall tallies in almost 60 years.
- Hurricane Dorian, $11.4 Billion: The September hurricane was the second strongest storm on record in the Atlantic and it devastated the Bahamas, costing the country the equivalent of more than a quarter of its gross domestic product. Warmer ocean temperatures made it both more intense and wetter than it would have been otherwise, and led it to intensify more quickly.
- Typhoon Lekima in China, $10 Billion: The typhoon that hit China in August was the fifth most intense to hit the country since 1949. It killed 101 people and was the second most expensive storm in China's history. Like Hagibis and Dorian, it also intensified quickly, a phenomenon linked to warmer temperatures.
- Flooding in North India, $10 Billion: Flooding caused by the heaviest monsoon rains in 25 years swamped Northern India, Bangladesh and Nepal between June and October. The rains killed almost 1,900 people in India alone and displaced more than three million. Climate change makes more extreme rainfall more likely generally, and, in Northern India, rainstorms have increased 50 percent in frequency and 80 percent in duration.
The costliest events weren't necessarily the most devastating or the deadliest. While the floods in Northern India claimed the most lives, Cyclone Idai, which slammed Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Malawi and Madagascar in March, had the next highest death toll. It killed 1,300 people and cost $2 billion. In general, poorer countries suffered higher death tolls while wealthier countries suffered costlier disasters. Three of the four most expensive hit the U.S. and Japan.
Christian Aid said the report showed the importance of acting now to mitigate the climate crisis.
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By Matt Kasson, Brian Lovett and Carolee Bull
Home gardening is having a boom year across the U.S. Whether they're growing their own food in response to pandemic shortages or just looking for a diversion, numerous aspiring gardeners have constructed their first raised beds, and seeds are flying off suppliers' shelves. Now that gardens are largely planted, much of the work for the next several months revolves around keeping them healthy.
Start With Prevention<p>Just as preventive steps like maintaining a balanced diet help keep humans healthy, home growers can take many actions to help their gardens thrive.</p><p>One key step is assessing soil fertility – the ability of soil to sustain plant growth – which can vary widely depending on your location and soil type. Low soil fertility limits food production and predisposes plants to disease and pests. University extension <a href="https://soiltesting.wvu.edu/" target="_blank">soil testing labs</a> can help evaluate the quality of garden soil and identify nutrient deficiencies and acidic soils, often at no charge.</p>
Using weed barrier landscape cloth for planting rows and mulching between rows is an effective way to suppress weeds. Matt Kasson, CC BY-ND
Diagnosing Problems<p>Common plant pathogens include <a href="https://www.apsnet.org/edcenter/disandpath/viral/introduction/Pages/PlantViruses.aspx" target="_blank">viruses</a>, <a href="https://www.apsnet.org/edcenter/disandpath/prokaryote/intro/Pages/Bacteria.aspx" target="_blank">bacteria</a>, <a href="https://www.apsnet.org/edcenter/disandpath/nematode/intro/Pages/IntroNematodes.aspx" target="_blank">nematodes</a>, <a href="https://www.apsnet.org/edcenter/disandpath/oomycete/introduction/Pages/IntroOomycetes.aspx#:%7E:text=The%20oomycetes%2C%20also%20known%20as,foliar%20blights%20and%20downy%20mildews." target="_blank">oomycetes</a> and <a href="https://www.apsnet.org/edcenter/disandpath/fungalasco/intro/Pages/IntroFungi.aspx" target="_blank">fungi</a>. All of these microorganisms, especially at an early stage of infection, are too small to see. But when they proliferate, they cause changes in plants that we can recognize.</p><p>Unlike insects, which move around on six legs or on wings through the air, pathogens can move unseen and unchecked from leaf to leaf on the wind, through the soil or in droplets of water. Some microbes have even formed intimate relationships with insects and use them as vehicles to move from plant to plant, which makes these pathogens even more challenging to manage. Unfortunately, by the time some pathogens make their presence known, the damage is already done.</p><p>We recently conducted a <a href="https://twitter.com/kasson_wvu/status/1265989041725624323" target="_blank">Twitter poll</a> of gardeners nationwide to find out which culprits plagued their gardens. People named <a href="https://ento.psu.edu/extension/factsheets/aphids" target="_blank">aphids</a>, <a href="https://ento.psu.edu/extension/factsheets/squash-vine-borer" target="_blank">squash vine borers</a>, <a href="https://ento.psu.edu/extension/factsheets/squash-bug" target="_blank">squash bugs</a> and <a href="https://ento.psu.edu/extension/factsheets/flea-beetle" target="_blank">flea beetles</a> as the most problematic insect pests. Their most troublesome pathogens included <a href="https://extension.wvu.edu/lawn-gardening-pests/plant-disease/fruit-vegetable-diseases/powdery-mildew" target="_blank">powdery mildew</a>, <a href="https://plantpath.ifas.ufl.edu/rsol/Trainingmodules/BWTomato_Module.html" target="_blank">tomato bacterial wilt</a> and <a href="https://extension.wvu.edu/lawn-gardening-pests/plant-disease/fruit-vegetable-diseases/downy-mildew" target="_blank">cucurbit downy mildew</a>.</p><p>To manage such perennial challenges, the first step is to spend time closely looking at your plants. Do you notice any insects consistently hanging around, or molds colonizing leaves or other plant parts? How about symptoms such as blight, stunting, or leaves that are yellowing, browning or wilting?</p>
This white fungal growth is an early sign of powdery mildew on a leaf of susceptible summer squash. Matt Kasson, CC BY-ND
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By Emma Charlton
The effects of climate change may more far-reaching than you think.
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Value of air conditioning imports in selected OECD countries. ScienceDirect
The ‘Golden Thread’<p>The <a href="https://www.endenergypoverty.org/reports" target="_blank">Global Commission to End Energy Poverty</a> calls access to energy the "golden thread" that weaves together economic growth, human development, and environmental sustainability. And one of the <a href="https://www.weforum.org/agenda/archive/sdg-07-affordable-and-clean-energy" target="_blank">United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals</a> is to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all by 2030.</p><p>Sustainability also has a large role to play in the future of energy and failing to embed green policies in COVID-19 stimulus packages and underinvesting in green infrastructure are current risks, according to the <a href="http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_COVID_19_Risks_Outlook_Special_Edition_Pages.pdf" target="_blank">World Economic Forum</a>.</p><p>In its vision for a 'Great Reset' – building a better world after the pandemic – the Forum and the IMF jointly backed the <a href="https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/06/end-fossil-fuel-subsidies-economy-imf-georgieva-great-reset-climate/" target="_blank">transition to a green economy</a> and called for an end to fossil fuel subsidies.</p>
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Scores of people remained stranded in southern Japan on Sunday after heavy rain the day before caused deep flooding and mudslides that left at least 34 people confirmed or presumed dead.
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More Rain Forecast<p>The disaster in the Kumamoto prefecture on Kyushu island is the worst natural catastrophe since Typhoon Hagibis in October last year, which cost the lives of 90 people.</p><p>Although residents in Kumamoto prefecture were advised to evacuate their homes following the downpours on Friday evening into Saturday, many people chose not to leave for fear of contracting the coronavirus.</p><p>Officials say, however, that measures are in place at shelters to prevent the transmission of the disease.</p><p>More rain is predicted in the region, and the Japan Meteorological Agency has warned of the danger of further mudslides.</p>
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