The Economic Cost of Devastating Hurricanes and Other Extreme Weather Events Is Even Worse Than We Thought

Posted on by

By Gary W. Yohe, Huffington Foundation Professor of Economics and Environmental Studies, Wesleyan University. Originally published at The Conversation

June marks the official start of hurricane season. If recent history is any guide, it will prove to be another destructive year thanks to the worsening impact of climate change.

But beyond more intense hurricanes and explosive wildfires, the warming climate has been blamed for causing a sharp uptick in all types of extreme weather events across the country, such as severe flooding across the U.S. this spring and extensive drought in the Southwest in recent years.

Late last year, the media blared that these and other consequences of climate change could cut U.S. GDP by 10% by the end of the century – “more than double the losses of the Great Depression,” as The New York Times intoned. That figure was drawn from a single figure in the U.S. government’s Fourth National Climate Assessment. (Disclosure: I reviewed that report and was the vice chair on the third one, released in 2014.)

If that sounds scary, I have good news and bad news. The good news is that that figure was drawn incorrectly from a significant misreading of the report – which actually offered a range of a loss of GDP from as low as 6% to as high as 14% by 2090.

The bad news, however, is that a more meaningful assessment of the costs of climate change – using basic economic principles I teach to undergrads – is a hell of a lot scarier.

Record flooding has submerged homes and highways across the country, like these in Fort Smith, Arkansas. Reuters/ Drone Base

Tallying the Costs

First, let’s look at how government agencies, insurance companies and the media calculate and report on the economic costs of disasters.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, in 2018 hurricanes Michael and Florence each caused about US$25 billion in damages, contributing to a total toll of $91 billion from that year’s weather and climate disasters. In 2017, the NOAA’s total was even bigger: $306 billion, due to the massive destruction from hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.

But these tallies are not really valid measures of economic damage. Instead, they simply reflect estimates of what people think will need to be invested to rebuild what was damaged or destroyed in the storms, floods or fires.

To really understand the economic costs of an extreme weather event, it’s important to consider all the investment that is being “crowded out” or lost to cover those rebuilding costs. Put another way, there’s only so much money to go around. And that $25 billion being used to rebuild means $25 billion is not being used for other public and private investment opportunities that are more forward-looking or more likely to promote growth.

Accounting for Growth

Instead, I believe a fundamentally more sound way to do this is to use something called “growth accounting.”

Growth accounting incorporates the productive use of capital and innovation into the equation. The question we want to ask is what happens to GDP growth when recovery efforts from extreme events crowd out productive investments, like building new factories or roads and bridges?

Returning to NOAA’s estimated losses for 2017 and 2018, productive investment fell about $400 billion in total in those years as a result. That is, had those disasters not happened, investment would have been that much higher. And that diminished investment translates into less growth in gross domestic product – a measure of all an economy produces in a given period.

If similar experiences in extreme events occur for the next 10 years – which is not a bad assumption given that four of the most expensive years in history have occurred in the last five – U.S. GDP in 2029 would be about 3.6% lower than it would have been otherwise, based on my calculations using growth accounting.

That amounts to an economy that’s $1 trillion poorer as result of these extreme weather events crowding out productive investment.

This is the real cost of a world in which these types of massively destructive disasters happen more frequently.

Sooner and Scarier

Returning to our 10% figure, 3.6% is comparatively smaller, of course, but it’s much sooner, which makes it much scarier.

Why?

Because the number of extreme events and their destructive power keeps increasing at an accelerating rate. If we can expect to take a $1 trillion hit over just the next decade, the costs by the end of the century are hardly fathomable.

So while I may disagree with the numbers The New York Times and others use in tallying disasters, they are right to try to spur readers to action.

The situation is just a lot more dire then anyone realizes. With any luck, the size of the figure will frighten us to do more to stave off the worst.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

64 comments

  1. rd

    The really big impacts are going to come from the climate refugees.

    Looking back over the past couple of hundred years just in the US, the Year without Summer (1816) due to the Tambora explosion resulted in many farmers from New England moving to the Mid-West in the following decade, especially once the Erie Canal opened. The Mississippi flood of 1927 shifted a lot of population from the southern Mississippi basin to the north (e.g.g Chicago). Many of these were blacks who moved north since the whites broke the levees in black communities to reduce flooding in the white communities. the Dust Bowl forced many farmers to move (Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath”).

    Looking forward, the rising ocean will inexorably annex land in places like Florida and other coastal areas. Hurricane storm surges will hasten that process. Millions may move over the next century due to this. salt water intrusion into aquifers is going to reduce the carrying capacity of the remaining coastal areas in places like Florida unless expensive water projects are put in place.

    It is unclear what the impact of this years is going to be for farmers along the major rivers in the mid-west this year, but it is not looking pretty. Many of them may be forced to pull up stakes and go somewhere else. Increasing cycles of drought and flood are likely to pressure more rural areas. Drought is also likely to impact cities in arid areas. How often can Houston and the Carolinas sustain the type of flooding they have seen over the past few years?

    I think the next 50 years are going to see large demographic shifts in some areas with a lot of people fleeing climate impacts.

    Reply
    1. sharonsj

      The 2004 Pentagon report on global warming can be summed up in one sentence: Climate change is more of a threat than terrorism. The main point of the report was the problem of mass migration and of course it is not limited to the U.S. In fact, another (non-Pentagon) report says the future could be so bleak that the only places to survive will be at the North and South poles.

      Reply
      1. Richard

        I am not sure survival at the North pole will be particularly easy unless you have a very big boat that can grow food!

        Reply
    2. taunger

      Mass migration is absolutely the major threat to status quo in regard to climate. You mention flooding and sea level rise; what happens in the US SW when drought and over-development reach their apex? I see that as the most likely domino to fall first.

      Reply
      1. Isaac

        One wonders if those pushing for a US-Mexico wall are thinking of climate refugees.

        The truly scary scenario is South Asia – as India and Pakistan roast and Bangaladesh floods, where do the billion-plus of South Asia go?

        Reply
    3. Bob

      Seems that, correspondingly, a rather significant chunk of generational wealth is going to be lost as well. Nostalgia may be all that’s left.

      Reply
  2. Anarcissie

    ‘Returning to NOAA’s estimated losses for 2017 and 2018, productive investment fell about $400 billion in total in those years as a result. That is, had those disasters not happened, investment would have been that much higher. And that diminished investment translates into less growth in gross domestic product – a measure of all an economy produces in a given period.’

    Once again, Growth is seen as an unalloyed good. But Growth is precisely the consumption and destruction of the ecosystem in which it is embedded, of discovering and seizing natural resources and turning them into money, power, and garbage. It may be that Nature or Gaia or whatever you want to call it is just beginning to push back a little, instead of dropping us off a cliff.

    I am not sure at all about the measures being reported here, but the logic of how they are interpreted is as I say above.

    Reply
    1. Oregoncharles

      Yes, and there’s another problem: ” what happens to GDP growth when recovery efforts from extreme events crowd out productive investments, like building new factories or roads and bridges?” The trouble is, for the most part we aren’t doing those things. Why build new factories when cheap plastic gadgets are much cheaper from China? And our infrastructure is notoriously crumbling before our eyes. We aren’t even maintaining it, let alone building new unless for some developer in a very few hot spots.

      So his clever analysis is based on more than one false premise. .Not that I think the existing estimates are realistic; the end of civilization is likely to be extremely expensive, to say nothing of all the lives.

      Reply
  3. Synoia

    To sum up: Climate Change is here, and the effects more expensive much sooner than forecast.

    Forecast Process:

    It is pointless to discuss a year’s actual numbers without including growth projections.

    At what year based on trends, will repairs fall behind destruction, assuming:
    1. Straight line projection
    2. Exponential Projection

    There should be enough date from the last 10 years to give a range for the magnitude of the exponent for case (2). That should show a projected minimum baseline, to project when we cannot mitigate climate change damage.

    Reply
    1. ambrit

      You’ve made an excellent argument for prioritizing “replacement” over “repair.”
      The rising sea levels will soon force our hand on that issue. A flooded area will require the former inhabitants to move to someplace else. The soon to be inundated toxic sites will have to be proactively cleaned up and “sanitized.” New infrastructure for the fleeing masses will have to be built at the ‘new’ habitation zones. Worldwide, this is a recipe for disaster.
      The Central American ‘Caravans’ to El Norte are just the beginning. In that case, infrastructure generally cannot be picked up and moved to a new location. The last practical example of that I can think of is after WW2 when Soviet Russia dismantled and shipped entire factories from Germany to the Soviet Union. That required a massive, State organized effort. Are the present States up to this task? Will the present States even survive the challenge?
      As the old joke puts it: “The most stable State is the ‘State of Change.'”

      Reply
      1. Synoia

        There is a unmentioned destruction multiplier at the US Coasts, specifically the US East coast: Sanitation Plants.

        Flooding all these would result in 150 to 200 million people becoming homeless. It is unlikely to be a one time event, but a failures of a geographic collections of plants overcome by large storms, without enough interval between storms to recover.

        The North East Coast is very vulnerable, because of the population density.

        My recommendation is to move soon, ahead of the coming rush.

        Reply
          1. ambrit

            Here in the American South, my monies are on Appalachia being the “Refuge of Choice.” Someone elsewhere suggested a CCC program to ‘renovate’ the old coal fields of West Virginia. That could be made a multi purpose project. A “new” and improved ‘Tennessee Valley Authority’ sounds like a natural. Expand it’s scope and reach, and you have a Regional Recovery Authority.

            Reply
          2. Synoia

            Nor Cal, north of the wine (or whine) country is difficult, because it’s very hilly.

            Inland in the bay are must avoid the Sacramento River Delta, and be high enough to survive the failure of the Oroville Dam.

            Reply
            1. Wukchumni

              Gigantic floods ala 1861-62 happen every 200-400 years in California the past few thousand years, the 1605 one much bigger than the aforementioned version, and all the Indians were doing to change their climate was burning stuff.

              We’ve done a bit more, in that regard.

              Reply
        1. Svante

          Two nations, two responses:

          https://www.desmogblog.com/2019/06/05/paris-accord-trump-juliana-case-constitutional-right-safe-climate

          https://www.citylab.com/transportation/2019/06/amsterdam-parking-spots-removal-cars-bikes-parks-playground/591067/?utm_source=feed

          Betya, there’s a plethora of things, nobody’s ever heard about, that are happening NOW, not at some point in the future? Too bad, nobody’s sufficiently involved, to make it impossible for our duopoly & media to ignore, deny & outlaw protest

          Reply
      2. Svante Arrhenius

        So, invest in industries most likely to profit from belated mitigation attempts; resettling whole populations, replacing GE monoculture crops, drought & storm ravaged farmland, depleted soils, polluted water? And folks with hands-on skillsets, not currently appreciated?

        Sounds like our elected officials will soon be far wealthier? If they can pay mercenaries to protect them from cop/ military warlords?

        https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/17/upshot/how-to-think-about-the-costs-of-climate-change.html

        Reply
  4. cripes

    On the upside, here in Chicago the rain has created ponds in the parks where lawns were, geese and ducks visit this new habitat, the greenery is so lush it feels like a tropical forest walking some streets, and birds are chittering in numbers I don’t recall for a long time. Insects are swarming around in the grass and flowers, that have been silent for last several years..

    Natures revenge?

    Reply
        1. newcatty

          Another reason I am glad to have indoor, only, cats here at the little house in the woods. Just saw a family of quail. What is more adorable than baby quail? Also, little bunny. Our feeder is filled with finches. Also, the other day was visited by a pair of orieoles. I know wonderful peeps who insist their cats must have the freedom to wander outside. When mention about the harm and deaths of birds, lizards, bunnies, etc. I am told that their cats would “go crazy”, if kept indoors. Don’t have an answer to that pov.

          Reply
          1. polecat

            It’s the humans who would, are, will, go crazy from antsy cats … assuming one’s cat Really Want to be outside !

            Reply
  5. ambrit

    Am I right in suspecting that the pernicious effects of mis-allocation of available financial resources is not being included? The assumption that all those “sequestered” financial resources would be put to “useful” purposes, rather than financial games-playing, such as stock buy backs, etc. if not “disasterized” has not been demonstrated. To the extent that the rebuilding projects are at least reproducing useful things, such as houses, shops, civic infrastructure, etc. is a net positive when compared to the present “uses” those funds would be set to, stock buy backs, executive bonuses, etc. etc.

    Reply
    1. Synoia

      The money you identify will be used to build climate refugee apartments, and charge extortionate rents.

      Reply
    2. Other JL

      I think you are right. Furthermore I’m pretty skeptical of the “crowding out” argument in general, at least in this context. I’ve read many more analyses claiming we have too much money chasing too few productive investment opportunities. That’s hardly an environment where “crowding out” is going to occur to any significant extent.

      I suspect the article also doesn’t include the extent to which rebuilding is investment, as the new infrastructure in many cases is replacing old, aging, worn-out infrastructure.

      Not that any of this takes away from the headline point that climate change is one of the most serious issues facing humanity today.

      Reply
  6. Fred

    I thought disasters didn’t count against GDP. That it actually increased it because people would be buying things to rebuild.

    Reply
    1. ambrit

      Generally, I get the impression that “normal” productive processes disrupted by the ‘disaster’ outweigh any ‘rebuilding’ positive effects. Also, the net positives from producing the supplies used in the rebuilding phase of any disaster usually redound to the benefit of ‘outside’ regions. (My example is the Chinese drywall that ‘flooded’ the post Katrina Gulf Coast market. Too many down sides to that for a short take now.)

      Reply
    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      Once the rate of climate disasters outruns the ability of people to make, sell and buy things; then the GDP will start to shrink as the physical civilization degrades.

      Reply
  7. rc

    First, we are not seeing an increase in hurricanes or their intensity (see link below). Second, people set aside money for insurance covering a lot of the damage so it is a cost of living that is annualized and spread out.

    An objective analysis would look at the marginal cost of any increase in storm intensity or damages. Then evaluate alternatives for mitigation and opportunity costs. Building codes? Reforestation? Carbon regulation? …

    If people are sincere about the environment / climate change, they would prioritize and look at cost/benefit honestly. China and India are among the biggest sources of future pollution. Where are calls for environmental tariffs? Why aren’t we focused on air pollution, which we know does result in premature deaths? What about topsoil declines in arable land? Where are the investments in transportation that would reduce costs and increase productivity? Where are the studies looking at solutions with multiplier effects on benefits. Producing in the West with efficient regulation would probably lead to higher relative prices with less consumption and less pollution.

    Is this the standard for professors at Wesleyan? I would have expected more.

    Reply
    1. Ignacio

      If people are sincere about the environment / climate change, they would prioritize and look at cost/benefit honestly. China and India are among the biggest sources of future pollution. Where are calls for environmental tariffs?

      And what about tariffs on present and past emissions? I personally don’t give any credibility to anybody arguing about others’ emissions and forgetting their own.

      Reply
      1. Lost in OR

        Right on. So how do you factor emissions from manufacturers in other countries producing goods for you?

        Reply
        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Abolish Forcy-Freetade, establish the Full Metal Hansen anti-fossil-carbon FeeTax and Dividend and ramp it up to torturous and then exterminative levels against the Fossil Fuel industries, and ban imports from countries which don’t do exactly the same.

          That will help exterminate industries in other countries which are “producing goods for you” and force the re-patriation of those companies back into “your own country” so that the companies “producing goods for you” are now in “your own country”. And because goods from carbon-dumping countries are forbidden entry, the companies “in your own country” do not have to worry about carbon dumpers undercutting the goods they produce within the constraints of the Full Metal Hansen Carbon PuniTax.

          Reply
    2. lyman alpha blob

      If people are sincere about the environment / climate change, they would prioritize and look at cost/benefit honestly.

      Actually if people were serious about the environment, a cost benefit analysis is the last thing they ought to be doing. People who truly care will preserve the natural world because it’s the right thing to do for every species that inhabits this planet, including our own, costs be damned.

      If we are ever going to change course, we need to get away from framing this issue in economic terms – we should all know by now how that will end up.

      Reply
    3. Peter

      Nonsense response when considering that the USA alone use 25% of the world energy at about 5% of the world’s population..

      Reply
      1. Randy

        The USA wastes 25% of the 25%.

        I had to explain to my brother-in-law what a KWh was. I’m sure he and many other “folks” think their electricity comes from the outlet and that is as far as their thought goes.

        Reply
  8. Wukchumni

    Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of drought stays the Car Go Cult from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.

    Reply
    1. Ignacio

      The Car Go Cult, I like that expression. Lots of guys and gals protest when speed limits are lowered, when car access to some urban spaces is restricted, whet taxes on fuel are raised… How to make people change from this cult to the cult of conservation is, IMO, the most important challenge figthing CC. This is infinitely more important than waiting for techno-solutions. For instance, increasing sales of EVs is OK, but this, by no means should make us confortable and preclude the introduction of more and more restrictions to fuel consumption.

      Reply
      1. LifelongLib

        Until there’s a massive rebuild of towns and cities, getting by without cars in most parts of the U.S. will be extremely difficult. Several posters here have noted how few places there are where it can currently be done.

        Reply
  9. Ignacio

    Once again, all these possible scenarios studied are esentially worthless except if they help to bring more people to embrace the necessary social changes needed to figth climate change. And I think that those are also useless in this sense. Bringing predictions from 2100 to 2029 is an improvement, of course, but yet this migth impress only a few.

    I think that instead of talking of the many millions necessary to repair damages it would be more interesting to highlight the real effects on real lifes and not only in the aftermath of the hurricanes but long after them highligthing how these change the lifes of many and long term impacts which doesn’t seem to be accounted in the mentioned studies.

    Reply
    1. John Wright

      I am not optimistic that social changes will arrive in time or in enough magnitude.

      Here are a couple of anecdotes.

      The morning (June 5) TV today featured a TED talker who mentioned the “demographic time bomb” of low fertility in the USA and that the USA needed to encourage residents to have more children..

      Nary a talking head present who would ask if a shrinking population in the USA would make climate change less of a problem

      And another anecdote, last week I was visiting relatives in one of the “educated” suburbs rimming Boston. There seemed to be a lot of home building to replace small homes with larger ones, which seems like a bad idea with impending climate change.

      A smaller USA population housed in smaller-energy efficient homes might help somewhat.

      I suspect climate change mitigation will be too little, too late, in both the developed and developing worlds..

      Reply
      1. Ignacio

        I agree with that but fear that because it migth be too little too late then it is useless to try. We all should feel unconfortable while doing nothing. If so, it will be much worse than any scenario we can paint.

        Reply
      2. Svante

        Not unlike our top 20% pink and red hats buying SUV and AWD crossovers, to cope. “Lucifer’s Hammer” of course adds books, to rebuild from catastrophe. But, as progressively worse leaders devolve, mitigation will be short term, desperate, useless and doubtless revert to the worst possible choices; benefitting only the bosses. If you ain’t white, affluent & connected, you’ve doubtless seen this all, well before Katrina?

        Reply
        1. ambrit

          One thing I’ve learned from my travails here Down South is that corruption is ‘equal opportunity.’ Just make that “…affluent and connected…” and you describe the state of play.
          “Lucifer’s Hammer” was written by two of the technophiles of the science fiction world, Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. (Their ‘descriptions’ of how other science fiction writers they knew would have made out after the disaster is one of the joys of the book.) The idea of saving useful books to jump start civilization is good, as far as it goes, but assumes the continuation of general literacy.

          Reply
          1. Wukchumni

            Lucifer’s Hammer was set in Springville & environs on the Tule River, the next river south of here, and around 25 miles away as the raven flies.

            Our river-the Kaweah, is named after ravens and the Wukchumni called it ‘Gaweah’. Could have been the St Francis River, the name given to it in 1850 by a U.S. army patrol checking out the region, but it didn’t stick.

            Reply
            1. Wukchumni

              Whoops, make that the Frances River, and of course now everybody would be calling it the Frank.

              the only point in the whole valley… at all suitable for a military post was a small portion of the interval land contained by the [distributary] creeks of the River Frances. The land is excellent for cultivation, well timbered and an abundance of excellent building material may be found close at hand. The country is 8 miles in length by 6 miles in width between these branches; it is a beautiful, smooth, level plain covered with clover of many different kinds and high grass and shaded by one continuous growth of oaks of a larger and finer variety than I have ever seen in the country.

              And John C. Fremont didn’t think much of the locals…

              After an arduous winter crossing of the Sierras, he traveled south from Sutter’s Fort on March 24, 1844. On April 9, he camped in the Four Creeks area, probably on the banks of the Kaweah. Fremont referred to the Wukchumni as the “Horse-thief Indians” and was very careful in guarding his horses at night.

              https://www.nps.gov/parkhistory/online_books/smithsonian/terminus-reservoir/sec6.htm

              Reply
          2. Svante

            Watching CNBC’s ‘Baggers acquire perfunctory RAMs, F-450s & BushMASTERS, as de Lawd dun smited their less worthy, po’ neighbors (all across Baby Jesus FreedumLand® was very disheartening, as MSDNC’s Resistance™ just relegated all their victims to drought, floods, pestilence, firestorms… then, replaced their Q7/ X5 with even larger Volvo, Maserati and Jaguar SUVs to sate their fahklempt dismay; as long as their portfolios gained 60% and they could just blame what used to be called “the working class?” Princess Ivanka and Chelsea will fix it all in 2024. https://www.citylab.com/environment/2019/06/extreme-heat-wave-data-deaths-health-risks-climate-change/590941/?utm_source=feed

            Reply
            1. ambrit

              Well, ‘they’ are making many ‘basic’ mistakes, and no mistake about that.
              First, where will the petrol come from to power those Behemoths? Gasoline has a ‘shelf life,’ else, why do the industrialists sell “gas stabilizer’ to put in your gas tank when ‘wintering over’ some power machinery? In a ‘real’ SHTF situation, I’ll go with horses, thank you very much. (Since I’m a ‘deplorable’ it’ll be “shanks mare” for me I fear.)
              Second, long guns like the Bushmaster are, even with the civilian restrictions on rate of fire, which can be got around of fairly easily for a competent gunsmith, wasteful of ammunition. When personal survival is on the line, “spray and pray” is not an optimal strategy. For close in work, a shotgun will do the job, if you are familiar with the process. Most, if not almost all of our “Aspirational Warlords” won’t know, literally so, what hit them when some sneaky so and so creeps up behind them and does whatever so and sos do in that situation.
              Third, as so many survivors of really hard times attest to, one cannot eat or drink: gold, silver, bonds, stocks, certificates of deposit, or Government Warrants.
              Fourth, I don’t know if the ‘Honourable Chelsea’ really has her heart in the political field of endeavour. As to ‘The Lady Ivanka,’ well, being the wife of a commoner who holds high office does not entitle her to title, but she does exhibit most of the attributes of a “Lady.” (She probably has arguably the hardest job of the many denizens of the present White House Administration. Somehow, she reminds me of Jacqueline K-O. Go figure.)

              Reply
  10. Susan the other`

    I dunno about the productive use of “capital”. That evokes an image of money that was made in some private enterprise and is looking for a profitable new reinvestment. I think maybe we can dispense with that jargon. Yesterday I watched some You Tube stuff on the Arctic and it was not hopeful. There probably isn’t a good investment opportunity left anywhere on the planet. The changes already, and they are rapidly progressing to an ice-free- Arctic, have caused the big displacement of the jet stream – as we witnessed so personally this last winter. In 3 or 4 years we could see 30 feet of ocean rise. So maybe instead of trying to adjust to “growth accounting” we should adjust our hubris down a notch and go with something that isn’t as glam, but is true – “salvage accounting.” And innovation on a shoestring. Because, after all we do still have options: We are standing here at the end of the Industrial Revolution, up to our asses in alligators. But there is massive entropy in the system, as they say. We can start to salvage all of our farms and businesses, all of our devastated washed-out houses; our underwater cities. And that translates into cleaning up the environment (worth more than all our former profits); good long term employment which will make the economy work; new farming and agriculture which can’t come fast enough for most of us; water management that is effective; good applied science everywhere. Looking at it this way the growth in question is a sea change in civilization. Pun intended. Can we pump the spring floods back down and replenish the Ogalalla aquifer? Can we finally turn recycling into a manufacturing industry?

    Reply
    1. newcatty

      Yes, Susan. “Salvage accounting” is possible. A critical mass of people deciding that This is where we need, and choose, to go is a sea change in how we face our future.

      Reply
    2. Eclair

      Nice, Susan the other, thank you. Your evocative phrase, “We are standing here at the end of the Industrial Revolution, up to our asses in alligators,” sums up our situation nicely.

      And, the phrase “investment opportunity” should strike fear in all our hearts. It’s what got us into this mess.

      Reply
  11. JEHR

    I live in a Canadian city that lies along a river that floods nearly every year. When we moved here about 36 years ago and were looking for a home we learned all about the flood plain in the areas closest to the river. We purposely did not buy there. However, there have been some very large homes built on the steeper slopes of that river and elsewhere in that same area. In the past two years we have had substantial floods and finally the municipality is talking about forbidding builders to build in that area or building houses on stilts that would not flood. I wonder that it took so long to acknowledge the disaster of this annual flooding.

    This year also there was major flooding to the north of our city that bodes ill for the future of major cities of Montreal and Ottawa. Now would be the time to stop building in low-lying areas and moving people to safer ground. It probably will not happen until there is no choice.

    Reply
    1. Math is Your Friend

      “Now would be the time to stop building in low-lying areas and moving people to safer ground. It probably will not happen until there is no choice.”

      One city near me learned that one in the hurricane of ’54, and those potential flood zones have been grass and tree covered public parks ever since. They’ve flooded a few time since, though not as severely… very easy to clean up. Wash some mud off the road, re-site a few concrete road boundaries, and done.

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        The flood of record here came a few days before xmas in 1955, and i’d imagine 100 homes built too close to the river since then would be wiped out in a similar event, people forget.

        Reply
  12. Steve Ruis

    I still don’t see the total impact of such disasters is being accounted for. Adding up the costs to repair/replace infrastructure makes sense, but also looking at how funds applied to those tasks crowd out other investment seems just the tip of the iceberg. What about opportunity costs? What about lost productivity? People trying to rescue a flooded home aren’t going to be the most focused employees if they even get to work for the next weeks or months. I understand that people look for easy measures of such costs, but wouldn’t a few comprehensive examples, ones in which all of the imagined costs are accounted at least give us some idea of how the quick estimates relate to real costs?

    Reply
  13. Scott1

    “It would be nice if we didn’t have to merge our powers to prevent the collapse of the food chain.”
    Trade war policies & whatever is about nationalistic isolation policy is opposite correct policy in a world wide war for the food chain.
    The urgency of alternative energy sourcing is occurring according to the methane bubble melt. That melting was never factored in in the ’70s. The only failures from the Ecology Departments of our universities predictions flows from the factor that was left out.
    There is no blame. Evidence was lacking. No doubts now.
    Human nature needs war to effectuate write downs and change.
    Imagine if the UN declared war on nuclear nations in order to eliminate the primary existential threat? What if it had the Army of the best? Best of everything known to work by systems engineers of governance & finance.
    For one thing that would make a Fund. Then you have a Force capable of paying for all necessary engineering feats using a plan of best practices.
    I am anti war and have figured out we have the technology to substitute a movie for a real war.
    It does not look like I will get that chance.
    I live in a very good retreat area. Even in a hole at the top of a ridge.
    Storms & tornados detour.
    P.S. Fiat money is the best. I can only offer one sided memo money.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *