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10 Climate-Related Disasters That Cost More Than $1 Billion in 2018
From wildfires in California to flooding in Japan, 2018 made it very clear that climate change isn't just a future threat. To drive the point home, the charity Christian Aid published a report Thursday that puts a price tag on some of the most devastating extreme weather events of the year.
The report, Counting the Cost: A Year of Climate Breakdown, highlights 10 disasters that cost more than $1 billion in damages. Four of them cost more than $7 billion.
"This report shows that for many people, climate change is having devastating impacts on their lives and livelihoods right now," Dr. Kat Kramer of Christian Aid told BBC News. "The great injustice of climate breakdown is that the people that suffer first and worst, are the world's poor that have done the least to contribute to the crisis."
The report's authors acknowledged that, especially in developing countries, disasters can cost more in lives than they do in dollars. Further, some climate-related hazards like prolonged droughts or sea level rise worsen gradually over time. The writers also cautioned that the costs of the events they did focus on might be too low, since some numbers only covered insured losses and did not account for loss of productivity or uninsured losses. However, the list provides a dramatic summary of a year in which climate change could not be ignored.
"The world's weather is becoming more extreme before our eyes—the only thing that can stop this destructive trend from escalating is a rapid fall in carbon emissions," Dr. Michael Mann of Penn State University told BBC News in response to the report.
Here, then, are 10 of the costliest climate-change related disasters of 2018.
1. Hurricanes Michael and Florence, U.S.: Hurricane Florence, which inundated the Carolinas, and Hurricane Michael, which slammed the Florida panhandle, cost $17 billion and $15 billion respectively. Hurricane Florence dumped record rain on the Carolinas and was the third wettest storm ever to hit the U.S., while Hurricane Michael was the strongest storm ever to hit Florida's panhandle. Both were supercharged by climate change, which makes powerful Atlantic hurricanes more frequent and made Florence 50 percent wetter than it would have been otherwise.
2. Camp and Woolsey Fires, California, U.S.: The Camp Fire was the deadliest and most destructive fire in California's history and caused between $7.5 and $10 billion worth of damage. But other fires this year also wreaked havoc; the Woolsey Fire in Southern California caused $1.5 to $3 billion in damage. Climate change is responsible for the hot, dry conditions that have sparked an increasing number of dangerous wildfires in the Western U.S. in recent years.
3. Drought, Europe: A major heat wave and drought in Northern and Central Europe this summer cost insurers at least $7.5 billion. The heat broke records across Europe and killed nearly 1,500 in France, 250 in Denmark and 23 in Catalonia, Spain. Scientists concluded that climate change more than doubled the chances a heat wave would strike Northern Europe.
4. June-July Floods and Typhoon Jebi, Japan: Japan faced a one-two punch of severe flooding in June and July that cost $7 billion and Typhoon Jebi in August that cost between $2.3 and $5.5 billion. The early summer flooding and landslides killed at least 230 people, while the typhoon, the most powerful to hit the country in 25 years, killed 11.
5. Drought, Argentina: The country's most severe drought in 50 years cost it $6 billion in lost production costs and contributed to a recession. It was set off by below average rainfall from late 2017 to April of this year, and decreased the country's soybean harvest by 31 percent compared to last year and its corn harvest by 20 percent.
6. Tropical Storm Rumbia Floods and June-July Floods, China: Flooding from Tropical Storm Rumbia in August cost the country $5.4 billion and flooding earlier in the summer had already caused $3.9 billion in damage. China stands to lose more than any other country to damages from climate-related flooding as the risk increases in its populous and economically important coastal and eastern regions. The price tag could be $389 billion over the next 20 years,
7. Drought, Eastern Australia: A drought that parched Eastern Australia for most of 2018 could cost the country's economy $5.8 to $9 billion. Its wheat harvest is expected to be the lowest in a decade, and scientists predict that droughts will get even worse in Australia if greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise.
8. Floods, Kerala, India: In August, the southern Indian state saw is worst flooding in more than 80 years, causing damage that will cost $3.7 billion to repair. Around 500 people died and more than 10,000 homes were destroyed. Climate change makes heavy rainfall more likely, including in India.
9. Drought, Cape Town, South Africa: Cape Town's worst drought in recorded history took place at the beginning of 2018 and cost the city at least $1.2 billion. Cape Town barely avoided becoming the first major city in the world to run out of water entirely.10. Typhoon Mangkhut, China and the Philippines: Typhoon Mangkhut, the equivalent of a category 5 hurricane, slammed China and the Philippines in September and cost insurers between $1 - $2 billion. It killed 127 in the Philippines and six in China and destroyed 10,000 homes. Warmer oceans and atmospheric temperatures increase both wind speeds and rainfall in storms like Mangkhut, enabling them to do more damage.
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‘Companies Should Not Be Allowed to Use Hazardous Ingredients in Products People Use’: Michelle Pfeiffer Speaks Up for Safer Cosmetics
The beauty products we put on our skin can have important consequences for our health. Just this March, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned that some Claire's cosmetics had tested positive for asbestos. But the FDA could only issue a warning, not a recall, because current law does not empower the agency to do so.
Michelle Pfeiffer wants to change that.
The actress and Environmental Working Group (EWG) board member was spotted on Capitol Hill Thursday lobbying lawmakers on behalf of a bill that would increase oversight of the cosmetics industry, The Washington Post reported.
By Julia Conley
Scientists at the United Nations' intergovernmental body focusing on biodiversity sounded alarms earlier this month with its report on the looming potential extinction of one million species — but few heard their calls, according to a German newspaper report.
The climate crisis is a major concern for American voters with nearly 40 percent reporting the issue will help determine how they cast their ballots in the upcoming 2020 presidential election, according to a report compiled by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.
Of more than 1,000 registered voters surveyed on global warming, climate and energy policies, as well as personal and collective action, 38 percent said that a candidate's position on climate change is "very important" when it comes to determining who will win their vote. Overall, democratic candidates are under more pressure to provide green solutions as part of their campaign promises with 64 percent of Democrat voters saying they prioritize the issue compared with just 34 percent of Independents and 12 percent of Republicans.
President Donald Trump has agreed to sign a $19.1 billion disaster relief bill that will help Americans still recovering from the flooding, hurricanes and wildfires that have devastated parts of the country in the past two years. Senate Republicans said they struck a deal with the president to approve the measure, despite the fact that it did not include the funding he wanted for the U.S.-Mexican border, CNN reported.
"The U.S. Senate has just approved a 19 Billion Dollar Disaster Relief Bill, with my total approval. Great!" the president tweeted Thursday.
"There was a lot of devastation throughout the state," Governor Mike Parson said at a Thursday morning press conference, as NPR reported. "We were very fortunate last night that we didn't have more injuries than what we had, and we didn't have more fatalities across the state. But three is too many."