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US Disaster Costs Shatter Records In 2017, the Third-Warmest Year On Record (cnbc.com) 222

An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNBC: Major hurricanes and wildfires fueled a record year for costs related to natural disasters in the United States, according to a new report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. That report also said 2017 was the third-warmest year in 123 years of record keeping, behind only 2014 and 2012. Natural disasters in the United States cost more than $300 million last year, far surpassing the previous record of $214.8 billion set in 2005, NOAA said Monday. NOAA counted 1 drought event, 2 flooding events, 1 freeze event, 8 severe storm events, 3 tropical cyclone events, and 1 wildfire event during the year that bore losses exceeding $1 billion each. There were also 362 deaths. That would tie with 2011 for the largest number of such billion-dollar disasters, the agency said.
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US Disaster Costs Shatter Records In 2017, the Third-Warmest Year On Record

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  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Monday January 08, 2018 @10:35PM (#55890797)

    Why would anyone expect the cost of natural disasters to do anything but go up? The price of everything is going up, from real estate to building materials to labor. Every time there is damage the cost of repair will be greater, sometimes much greater. Every year is probably going to be the most expensive. To claim (or imply) we had larger disasters than ever before is simply false, we've had bigger hurricanes, and worse wildfires. Especially speaking of wildfires, THAT is due to Californias stupid policy on never doing controlled burns and the sky-high price of real estate there. Wildfires there are nothing but a man-made disaster, probably caused by "Raw Water" freaks smoking pot as they collect.

    I also like how they casually imply the year being warm has strong ties to all the disasters - which include things like a freeze.

    • by JOstrow ( 730908 ) <jostrow@x13designs.com> on Monday January 08, 2018 @10:36PM (#55890803) Homepage

      If you're going to cause panic with statistics, at least get your millions/billions straight:

      "Natural disasters in the United States cost more than $300 million last year, far surpassing the previous record of $214.8 billion set in 2005, NOAA said Monday."

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by iggymanz ( 596061 )

      also most hurricane and flooding damage is due to stupidly overdeveloping coastline....and we won't talk about building cities below or at sea level, next to the sea

      this has everything to do with weather, and nothing provably to do with "climate change", and reputable scientists will still affirm that

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Except all the reputable scientists say otherwise. Only the people who aren’t climate scoentists are the people who the deniers get to sign ridiculous lists against climate change. As if it matters that a cardiologist denies climate change. Even Exxon Mobile acknowledged climate change years ago privately and yet idiots like you and SuperFag think otherwise to the benefit of only the oil companies.

        • by iggymanz ( 596061 ) on Monday January 08, 2018 @11:04PM (#55890937)

          no, reputable scientists aren't and don't point to a weather event and say it was due to climate change. there was stupid article recently about one contrarian with paper that said that could be done, but reputable scientists don't.

            your brain is scrambled with confusion over unrelated issues. Climate change, the weather events listed in the summary and increasing expense of disasters are three different things.

          • by religionofpeas ( 4511805 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2018 @01:19AM (#55891433)

            It's hard to point to a single weather event and attribute it to climate change, but it should be obvious that a changing climate also changes the weather.

            • by Entrope ( 68843 )

              There is a very simple rule about this: If it's hot, that is climate. If it's cold, that is just weather.

              • Global warming tends to make weather extreme, including extreme cold on occasion. It's more complicated than just a global rise in temperature.

          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by Anonymous Coward

            Exactly. Asking whether hurricane X or fire Y was caused by global warming is like asking if a shit was caused by increased dietary fiber. You will still definitely shit while eating less fiber, but you'll shit more if you eat more fiber. Now, can you say whether you would have taken THIS particular shit if you hadn't started eating more fiber? No, but you can say you probably wouldn't be on your fifth shit today without it.

            It's amazing how confusing the difference between climate and weather is for a lot o

          • no, reputable scientists aren't and don't point to a weather event and say it was due to climate change.

            Sure they don't... [nature.com]

      • by mentil ( 1748130 )

        Ssh don't give it away. Florida retirement communities are secretly a solution for our country's ageing population. Come for the weather (warm, sunny, beaches everywhere), stay for the weather (sweeping you out to sea).

      • "this has everything to do with weather, and nothing provably to do with "climate change", and reputable scientists will still affirm that"

        Those 2 guys are as reputable as the 'genius' is stable.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Entrope ( 68843 )

        An awful lot of Puerto Rico's hurricane costs are due to "deferred" maintenance of public facilities. The territorial government was too busy diverting funds as political favors to keep the infrastructure up-to-date. They apparently even forgot how to keep things in good repair. As a result, things broke badly when they finally got a strong storm.

    • You know what's disappointing?

      It's that you have a low userid which implies you've been on /. for a while.

      Also implied is that you are a candidate for "news for nerds, stuff that matters."

      Your point about inflation is correct and you missed a major point about how people are populating the shit out of coastal and other prime real estate acreage.

      Your last sentence.

      That's what's disappointing.

      And, because you've been around so long, I won't waste your time and mine pointing out your error.

      • As we all know, weather (or seasons) is/are not climate. You can't say any one particularly bad freeze is really due to climate change, because the possibility of a bad freeze was always there and as I noted, there have been worse instances in the past of all of the disasters we have seen this year.

        Yes climate change could theoretically cause larger variations but the freeze this year is an example of weather, not climate, in action - as any ONE event would be, since one evert does not a trend make. Over

        • by rwa2 ( 4391 ) *

          Heat is energy. Heat rises, pulling in cold air, creating weather. Cities create heat islands, measurably changing the microclimate. Can't really say humans are not involved in the ecosystem... just ask India and China how they feel about smog and particulate pollution in recent years. Aren't we glad we don't have their population density yet?

          NOAA is tracking the macroclimate, since NASA isn't really allowed to correlate with their independent instruments anymore. "Global temperature anomaly" charts an

        • by dryeo ( 100693 )

          As we all know, weather (or seasons) is/are not climate.

          Of course seasons are climate. Where I live , the climate is that Aug is usually the hottest, driest month, Nov is the wettest and Jan is the coldest. That is a form of climate and on average holds true. Further, the scientific consensus is that this short term climate is primarily caused by the tilt of the Earth though there are nutcases who dispute that just because the scientific consensus says the tilt of the Earth affects climate, we should be skeptical about the causes of seasons and that the Earth is

      • I won't waste your time and mine pointing out your error.

        Ooh! Ooh! I know!

        SuperKendall doesn't understand the difference between the high frequency short-term response and low frequency long-term response to change in non-linear dynamical systems!

        And my UID is > 4 million. :D

    • by mentil ( 1748130 )

      The price of everything is going up, from real estate to building materials to labor.

      The real question is: is thermal expansion outpacing economic expansion?

    • Not sure about that (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Okian Warrior ( 537106 ) on Monday January 08, 2018 @10:52PM (#55890877) Homepage Journal

      Why would anyone expect the cost of natural disasters to do anything but go up? The price of everything is going up, from real estate to building materials to labor. Every time there is damage the cost of repair will be greater, sometimes much greater. Every year is probably going to be the most expensive. To claim (or imply) we had larger disasters than ever before is simply false, we've had bigger hurricanes, and worse wildfires. Especially speaking of wildfires, THAT is due to Californias stupid policy on never doing controlled burns and the sky-high price of real estate there. Wildfires there are nothing but a man-made disaster, probably caused by "Raw Water" freaks smoking pot as they collect.

      I also like how they casually imply the year being warm has strong ties to all the disasters - which include things like a freeze.

      I'm not quite sure of your premise, one thing about natural disasters is that we get to learn from them.

      For example, the Loma Prieta earthquake (California 6.9, 1989), worth $5.6 in damages, caused changes in building codes to make the buildings more tolerant of earthquakes. There have been further earthquakes [wikipedia.org] of roughly the same magnitude, with much less damage. It's not completely comperable, the 1994 Northridge earthquake caused more damage, because earthquakes happen at different places and magnitudes.

      The New Orleans Levee breaches that caused all the flooding: OK, we should have seen that coming, but have we fixed the problems there? Would another hurricane cause as much damage?

      And there are near disasters that cause us to harden our defenses. The recent Oroville Dam crisis in California is getting fixed to better withstand seasonally unusual conditions, and no one wants to build nuclear reactors after Fukishima.

      Historically speaking, I'm not entirely sure that the costs of disasters should keep going up.

      Disasters tend to have happened before, and people tend to make plans.

      • I agree with you about earthquakes, but for fires few people really seem to plan well for them as even more expensive houses will get rebuilt in the same locations, controlled burns to keep vegetation in check will still not happen, and vegetation will grow back with a vengeance into eventual dry masses which will bring with it another catastrophic fire. Around Colorado you find countless mountain homes that do not cut back tress well away from the property, because people love trees - even though every fe

        • Might be a stupid question.

          But why don't they do burn offs? It's one of the regular maintenance things done round me.

          • by Mashiki ( 184564 ) <[mashiki] [at] [gmail.com]> on Tuesday January 09, 2018 @12:35AM (#55891275) Homepage

            But why don't they do burn offs? It's one of the regular maintenance things done round me.

            NIMBYism and environmental nuts. Same reasons why we don't have controlled burns of trees infested with pinewood beetles. Fire is about the only thing that will kill them, and it kills them very well and at their most damaging phase. Some trees that survive the burnoffs will even rebound when the beetles stop doing damage.

            • by dryeo ( 100693 )

              What used to kill off the pine beetles was cold. Used to have weeks of minus 30 in the interior of BC. Doesn't seem to happen anymore, leading to huge areas of dead lodgepole pine which is perfect for burning but the lumber companies don't want it to burn as they'd rather harvest the wood.

          • It's probably more that the amount of building going on means more fire suppression in lots of areas that are close to houses, so vegetation amasses that would have been otherwise been culled by small natural burns... but I also think California is less prone to support burn offs because it "harms vegetation" and of course the smoke is un-asthetic. They basically need to be planning a lot more controlled burn-off in risky areas and just are not doing so.

            It definitely is done in other areas, as you mention,

            • Actually, here in Southern California, home owners are responsible for clearing off the brush around their house, even if the brush is on public land. And, if they don't, the city or county will come in, clear the brush and charge the home's owner. Of course, that's only done once a year, so there's often dry brush waiting to be cleared and that can easily burn. And, as far as controlled burns go, they do get done when conditions are right, but tend to get put off during droughts to avoid having them get
        • I agree with you about earthquakes, but for fires few people really seem to plan well for them as even more expensive houses will get rebuilt in the same locations, controlled burns to keep vegetation in check will still not happen, and vegetation will grow back with a vengeance into eventual dry masses which will bring with it another catastrophic fire.

          There is one difference that is easily not considered.

          Robots.

          Robotic technology is improving rapidly and will make it possible to do the grunt work of landscaping far and wide, as well as fighting fires or reducing the impact of natural disasters.

          When arriveth the overlords?

        • by twdorris ( 29395 )

          I agree with you about earthquakes

          Damn it...this is twice now in as many days that I've had to check to make sure I was on the right site. A considerate, well-reasoned debate between two people with differing opinions and reasonable knowledge to base them on!? And it didn't just instantly degrade into a poo-flinging, dick-swing pride-fest!? WTF!? Nice!

      • They actually are not going up, if you look at costs relative to GDP [wordpress.com]. They are actually falling. But that doesn't make cataclysmic-warning headlines, does it?
        • They actually are not going up, if you look at costs relative to GDP

          Cost relative to GDP is roughly as skewed a measure as absolute costs. Perhaps the best measure would be inflation-adjusted cost per capita.

        • What a surprise, a denier links to a denier site and gets a deniers answer.

          Both links in the summary talk about data since 1980. Your link claims to use the same data from here [munichre.com] but comes up with the opposite conclusion.

          Why did they throw out the first 10 years of data? Is it because when you put them in you don't get the deniers answer that you and your link were looking for?

      • Buildings and property are way more expensive and dense now. Even buildings in 1906 were crap a earthquake now in san franscisco of same magnitude would be far more costly. I bet you property values in Loma Prieta are 5-10x what they were in 1989.
      • The time constant for earthquake building codes is several decades long. Most of the California earthquake building codes stem from the 1933 Long Beach earthquake [wikipedia.org] (mag 6.4). Most schools back then were brick buildings. Brick walls have no lateral strength - any sideways motion makes them simply fall over. Most of the schools in the Los Angeles areas were severely damaged or destroyed by the quake. But fortunately it hit around 6pm well after school hours. The realization that thousands if not tens of
      • Costs would go up using your examples, but loss of life would go down. Effects are not in a Year overhear basis though, barring externalities like policy or insurance changes.

      • "The New Orleans Levee breaches that caused all the flooding: OK, we should have seen that coming, but have we fixed the problems there? Would another hurricane cause as much damage?"

        The hurricane didn't cause the damage. Katrina actually wasn't that bad of a hurricane after it made landfall. The levee breaches didn't happen until a couple of days later.

        https://www.washingtonpost.com... [washingtonpost.com]

    • Well, how about "going up a rate WAY fucking beyond inflation"?
      • That still doesn't give the whole picture because areas affected most by disasters (generally the coasts) have prices that go up way faster than inflation, AND a lot more construction over time to boot. Just think of how many multi-million dollar homes burnt down in the CA wildfires alone, that greatly affects the damage total compared to flooding a lot of $100-300k homes in Houston.

        • And not just million dollar homes, but also vineyards and their buildings. Worth much more than a neighborhood in Kansas destroyed by a tornado.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        Except they are not [wattsupwiththat.com] even keeping pace with GDP growth. That kind of changes things, doesn't it?
        • If you look at their source [munichre.com] data. You will notice that they removed the first 10 years and started with 1990 instead of 1980.

          Looking at all the data it's clear that they are increasing, even compared with GDP.

          That is how you and your deniers site lie with statistics.

    • Natural disasters in the United States cost more than $300 million last year, far surpassing the previous record of $214.8 billion set in 2005, NOAA said Monday.

      Why would anyone expect the cost of natural disasters to do anything but go up? The price of everything is going up, from real estate to building materials to labor.

      Some of the prices going up are due to climate change, which affects materials costs. More of the increase is probably due to inflation, though.

      Every time there is damage the cost of repair will be greater, sometimes much greater.

      $214.8B in 2005 is only around $270 in 2017, depending on which month you look at. But it ended up being $300B (I presume they had a units error in TFA) which exceeds inflation. So yes, it actually is getting more expensive.

      • $214.8B in 2005 is only around $270 in 2017, depending on which month you look at. But it ended up being $300B (I presume they had a units error in TFA) which exceeds inflation.

        Are there more houses in affected areas now than there were in 2009? If the answer is yes, why are you factoring in only inflation for houses that existed that whole time, instead of adding in the additional value of the extra structures built, along with the much greater than average increase in home cost in most of the affected re

        • Are there more houses in affected areas now than there were in 2009?

          Not in California, where the housing market has been quite static because it's so expensive to build new units. Maybe in Houston. Instead of spreading FUD, why don't you act like an adult and crunch some numbers?

    • Five seconds to check the article and you would have seen this:

      More notable than the high frequency of these events is the cumulative cost, which exceeds $300 billion in 2017 — a new U.S. annual record. The cumulative damage of these 16 U.S. events during 2017 is $306.2 billion, which shatters the previous U.S. annual record cost of $214.8 billion (CPI-adjusted), established in 2005 due to the impacts of Hurricanes Dennis, Katrina, Rita and Wilma.

      But I guess Slashdot has become a place to celebr

    • I also like how they casually imply the year being warm has strong ties to all the disasters - which include things like a freeze.

      That's not so strange. Higher temps in the Arctic can have an effect on the jet stream, which can then bring patterns of both hot and cold weather to lower latitudes.

    • Why would anyone expect the cost of natural disasters to do anything but go up? The price of everything is going up, from real estate to building materials to labor. Every time there is damage the cost of repair will be greater, sometimes much greater. Every year is probably going to be the most expensive. To claim (or imply) we had larger disasters than ever before is simply false, we've had bigger hurricanes, and worse wildfires.

      While you are correct about rising costs, the jump from 214 billion to 300 billion is an almost 50% increase. This is well beyond inflation or GDP growth since 2005.

      Numerous well researched sources claim that the frequency of natural disasters is increasing. E.g.
      https://www.economist.com/blog... [economist.com]

    • Why would anyone expect the cost of natural disasters to do anything but go up? The price of everything is going up, from real estate to building materials to labor.

      Firstly, I interpret this to be saying that it's all same old same old nothing needs to change.

      That is not a correct argument. The price of a single item goes up - that's inflation. But if the price of a set of items is going up, you still have to think hmm, maybe that's because the number of items in the set is increasing or the items are getting bigger. If you see smoke, you have to think fire. Ok, I didn't count whether the set is increasing but I lived through the smokiest summer last year even though I

    • And if you read the article and looked at the data, it would be clear that $300B was spent above and beyond the norm during Republican administrations dealing with hurricanes in 2005 and 2017.

      Given the poor response to Katrina, and the issues re-establishing power in Puerto Rico I wonder where the money really went?

  • ... cost more than $300 million last year, far surpassing the previous record ...

    Yes but you are ignoring the savings! Don't forget that we completely ignored the devastation in Puerto Rico, thereby saving at least 100 million. As long as we can ignore the discomfort of certain classes of citizens we can manage costs effectively.

    • Puerto Rico was devastated yes, and much of the country is even now without power.

      But only 64 people died. And in return an ancient electrical grid that would have had massive failures in the next few decades, is being rebuilt from disaster funds, which will last them generations more than the old system would have.

      A lot of other infrastructure look roads will also be rebuilt. In just two or three years tourism there should be on a major upswing with so many new facilities and infrastructure.

  • If this is the third warmest on record then it's getting cooler? Must be.

    Of course claiming that having the third warmest on record does not mean it is getting cooler, any more than saying that greater costs from storms and wildfires proves it is getting warmer.

    Want to know what would convince me that the world is in fact getting warmer? Or, more accurately, that the powers that be are convinced global warming is more than just a theory? I'd be convinced of this being a real deal if the powers that be st

  • 2005's $214.8BN is in line with 2017's $313.89BN. So without the exact number this may mean an overall tie. As for a percentage of GDP, this was 1.6% in 2005. If 2016 numbers are used, $314.89BN is almost fully 2%. This means that while it roughly is following inflation, it is outstripping GDP growth. This also means that inflation is outstripping GDP growth, which itself is very interesting.
    • Correction - 1.7% Which still makes the overall point valid, but less pointed.
    • by PPH ( 736903 )

      We need to start importing our disasters from China instead of producing them domestically. I'm off to Costco to pick up a case right now.

  • If you look at the costs versus GDP [wordpress.com], they are actually declining...
  • by wakeboarder ( 2695839 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2018 @01:23AM (#55891443)

    The only reason why 2017 was notable is that hurricanes decided that the best places to mow down were wealthy US cities. Worldwide costs were up, disasters and deaths were down.

    http://www.iflscience.com/envi... [iflscience.com]

  • I like the connection by implication of high disaster costs and warming. Not misleading at all - as if "disaster costs" were a metric with any validity whatsoever (and not utterly variable based on fundamental inflation, as well as constantly-inflating seashore property increases, as well as development of land that pushes ever-further into floodplains, marshes, etc.).

    Ask yourself: the last time someone used such blatantly misleading 'statistics' to explain something, were they scientists, or snake-oil sal

  • Popcorn time!

    And before anyone gets their moral outrage panties in a knot, let's be honest here: The amount of hot air in this thread alone is good for another degree or two warming. From both sides. I don't even want to know how many global warming proponents here get irate over the ignorance of the deniers while at the same time burning kilowatts mining bitcoins.

    Talking here won't change jack shit. Mostly because there are exactly three groups in here: Those that are convinced that global change is a fact

  • $300 million last year, far surpassing the previous record of $214.8 billion

    That's ... um... editor asleep at the job much?

  • Its my understanding that the massive amount of hurricanes this past year was due more to El Nino failing to form, whose wind shear normally acts as a counter to the fragile center of cyclones as they attempt to spin up. There has been no tie established between El Nino failing to form and global warming. As far as expenses related to forest fires, one reader has already pointed out that it took place in practically the most expensive real estate on the continent, outstripping Gatlinburg from the previous f

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