Climate Change Was Costly in 2010

Climate change impacts our cities, natural resources and wildlife. It can be daunting, however, to calculate the exact impact climate change has on our wallets.

A new report by insurance company Munich Re has done just that.

The report indicates that natural disasters, including climate change, have amounted to$2.5 trillion in losses in the past 30 years. 2010 is the costliest for climate change-related disasters on record so far.

“Altogether, the insurance industry had to shoulder losses in the order of $37 billion for natural catastrophes worldwide in 2010.”

Extreme flooding near Nashville, Tennessee in May 2010.

It is no surprise that temperature-driven disasters in 2010 were so costly. According to the World Meteorological Organization, worldwide mean surface temperatures were the warmest ever recorded during the first 10 months of 2010. These increased temperatures provided the fuel to wreak havoc on areas such as Tennessee, Mississippi, Pakistan and Russia, to name a few.

“Fire, water, earth and air — the four basic elements have seldom been so destructive as in 2010,” said Torsten Jeworrek, chairman of Munich Re’s reinsurance committee in a letter accompanying the new report.”

Arctic sea ice with open water.

Another region experiencing climate change-related disaster in a very real way is the Arctic. The Arctic wildlife of fox, polar bear and caribou are already struggling to find new ways to survive in a rapidly changing environment, but may face even bigger challenges:

“Temperatures in the Canadian sector were particularly high, allowing the meltdown to continue unchecked there,” says the report. “As a result of the long-term decline in sea ice, the Arctic passages have become more easily navigable, facilitating exploration for and exploitation of the natural resources thought to exist there.”

We are going to continue to lose money and lives to climate change unless we reduce carbon emissions while finding ways to lessen the blow of climate change-related disaster. The insurer urges countries to work together to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Get involved with National Wildlife Federation to support greenhouse gas reduction policies nationally and globally.