Counting the costs of disasters

An article in Nature discusses the findings of economists that the monetary costs of disasters are rising mainly because more investments are being made in disaster-prone areas: “Almost two-thirds of 2011’s exceptionally high costs are attributable to two disasters unrelated to climate and weather: the magnitude-9.0 earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan in March, and February’s comparatively small but unusually destructive magnitude-6.3 quake in New Zealand.”

Catastrophe count graph from 1980-2010. Source: Munich RE

The article goes on to say: “That conclusion is backed up by a forthcoming study — supported by Munich Re — by economists Fabian Barthel and Eric Neumayer at the London School of Economics. Their analysis of events worldwide between 1990 and 2008 concludes that ‘the accumulation of wealth in disaster-prone areas is and will always remain by far the most important driver of future economic disaster damage'” (F. Barthel and E. Neumayer Climatic Change in press).

Some discussion then follows about the possibility that climate change is also involved in terms of precipitating weather-related disasters.

The article, in all, says nothing about the….what should we call them….human costs?

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