Surprise: Decline In GDP-Adjusted Global Catastrophe Losses Over Past 25 Years, Violent Tornadoes Trending Downward

By Die kalte Sonne

(German text translated/edited in the English by P Gosselin)

World economic output is rising and rising. This can be nicely seen in the growth of the global total gross domestic product. It is therefore not surprising that losses from natural catastrophes are also rising steadily. As there is more value that can be destroyed, the amount of damage would increase even if the number and severity of natural catastrophes remained constant.

This is an aspect that is often concealed when MunichRe and other companies disseminate statistical loss figures.

A new study by Roger Pielke has been able to document precisely this effect. Over the past 25 years, losses have risen sharply, but when standardized over GDP, a decline has been recorded. The study was published in the journal Environmental Hazards on 27 October 2018. Abstract:

Tracking progress on the economic costs of disasters under the indicators of the sustainable development goals
The Sustainable Development Goals indicator framework identifies as an indicator of progress the objective of reducing disaster losses as a proportion of global gross domestic product. This short analysis presents data on this indicator from 1990. In constant 2017 US dollars, both weather-related and non-weather related catastrophe losses have increased, with a 74% increase in the former and 182% increase in the latter since 1990. However, since 1990 both overall and weather/climate losses have decreased as proportion of global GDP, indicating progress with respect to the SDG indicator. Extending this trend into the future will require vigilance to exposure, vulnerability and resilience in the face of uncertainty about the future frequency and magnitude of extreme events.”

Violent  tornadoes in the USA have declined over the past 70 years

Severe tornadoes in the USA since 1950. Source: Roger Pielke Jr.

5 responses to “Surprise: Decline In GDP-Adjusted Global Catastrophe Losses Over Past 25 Years, Violent Tornadoes Trending Downward”

  1. John F. Hultquist

    Something as simple as “roof-tie-downs” can save a house or other structure from high winds.
    structure ties
    A little up-front cost can reduce loss by thousands.
    I’ve used ‘pipe hanger strap’ on small sheds; metal strap with holes for nails or screws, about 6USD for 10 feet by ¾ inch. Cut to desired length.

    Then there is this unfortunate lady:
    Little house goes for a wind ride

  2. rah

    The decline in “violent” tornadoes (EF-4 and 5s) is even more remarkable given the fact that radar technology has advanced and coverage greatly increased go much since the 1950s and that the populations of the US and Canada have continually grown and been far more dispersed over time.

    At least NOAA has come up with what seems like a reasonable adjustment for the inflation of the count over time. But it seems beyond their desire or capability to come up with a similar adjustment for hurricane incidence and power and so their is no historical continuity in the count.

  3. tom0mason

    It is just amazing how much better we’ve become at protecting ourselves from the occasional violent weather event. Thankfully such events are becoming less of an occurrence and less devastating.

  4. Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #345 | Watts Up With That?
  5. Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #345 - Sciencetells

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