According to a new report from the Center for American Progress, America had eight severe weather, flood, and drought events last year, causing more than $19 billion in damage across 35 states and killing 65 people.
Over the past four years, the report found:
- There were 42 extreme weather events that each caused at least $1 billion in damage.
- These extreme weather events caused 1,286 fatalities and $227 billion in economic losses across 44 states.
- On average, there were 61 presidential major disaster declarations per year because of extreme weather events.
The most expensive weather disaster of this decade, by far, is the Western drought, “which has cost $46 billion to date, according to CAP analysis.”
The likelihood for extreme weather disasters is rapidly increasing, too. “In only five years, the 2010s have witnessed almost as many extreme weather events as the 1960s and 1980s combined,” and data analysis shows “that the 2010s may see a total of as many as 644 disasters by 2019.”
“Evidence shows that we are living in an era of extreme weather,” the report said. “If trends continue, the government must increase investments in resilience strategies, such as climate-smart pre-disaster mitigation, fortified infrastructure, sustainable resource management planning, and scientific research.”
These investments, the report said, could drastically reduce the disasters’ costs, as “every $1 investment towards resilience reduces disaster damage by $4.” But, unfortunately, the proposed budget isn’t adequately funding these resilience strategies.
“At only this decade’s halfway point, extreme weather events of all sizes have devastated Americans’ lives and their wallets to the tune of more than $447 billion,” the report concluded, “a sum that was dwarfs the roughly $90 billion in resilience spending that the president’s budget proposal calls for in order to protect and fortify the nation’s future.”
“Congress must act in accordance with the math, listen to the overwhelming warnings of the world’s best scientists, and heed the S.O.S. calls of its citizenry lest the United States succumb to the rising impacts of extreme weather.”