The United States is penny wise and pound foolish on the climate

The United States is great in many respects. But we certainly aren’t perfect; we’ve made some pretty silly choices. One of the dumb choices politicians in the United States want to make is to defund climate science so we wont be able to prepare for increased disasters in the future. We can see how shortsighted this in when compared alongside with the costs of disasters.

Just think about the respective magnitudes. Estimates put the costs of the three big 2017 hurricanes (Harvey, Irma, and Maria) at approximately $200 billion. It is somewhat challenging to estimate the actual cost because not only is there rebuilding that must occur, but there are also lingering damages from loss of power, dislocation of people, and other long-lasting factors. Some reports estimate that the damage may end up being as high as $300 billion – a staggering amount.

It isn’t just hurricanes that cause damage. As I write this, terrible fires are devastating parts of California, damaging property and agricultural lands. This is on top of earlier fires elsewhere in the region, which followed closely on record droughts that had persisted in the preceding five years.

Earlier in the year the United States had other disasters that reached a billion dollars or more in damages (two floods, seven severe storms among others). Noaa provides an excellent summary.

These disasters are not limited to the United States, of course. Extreme weather fueled by human carbon pollution is occurring around the world.