New paper by Pielke Jr. – weather related disasters are decreasing in costs

This new paper from Dr. Roger Pielke Jr. is likely not going to be popular with the doomer crowd, because it takes the wind out of their sails when it comes to exclaiming that “Climate change is making the weather worse!”. Here’s his impetus from the paper:

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) of the United Nations are supported by a global indicator framework comprised of 232 indicators.1 Included under SDG Goal 1 to ‘end poverty in all its forms everywhere’ and Goal 11 ‘Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable’ is an indicator focused on disaster losses.

There are two specific goals under the SDGs with an explicit focus on disaster losses.
First, 1.5 states:

‘By 2030, build the resilience of the poor and those in vulnerable situations and reduce their exposure and vulnerability to climate-related extreme events and other economic, social and environmental shocks and disasters.’ An associated indicator is (1.5.2) ‘Direct economic loss attributed to disasters in relation to global gross domestic product

Second, 11.5:

By 2030, significantly reduce the number of deaths and the number of people affected and substantially decrease the direct economic losses relative to global gross domestic product caused by disasters, including water-related disasters, with a focus on protecting the poor and people in vulnerable situations.

An associated indicator (11.5.2) is:

‘Direct economic loss in relation to global GDP, damage to critical infrastructure and number of disruptions to basic services, attributed to disasters.’

To date, there has been no formal analysis of progress with respect to this particular indicator in the peer-reviewed literature. (bold mine) This short analysis has one narrow objective: to identify and share data that allows the tracking of progress with respect to global direct economic losses in relation to global GDP for all disasters and for the subset which is related to weather or climate.

And indeed, he does that, and these two graphs pretty much say it all:

Figure 2. Overall global disaster losses as a percentage of global GDP.


Figure 3. Weather disaster losses as a percentage of global GDP.

Note that in 2005 we had Hurricane Katrina, and in 2017 we had Hurricane Harvey, which account for the majority of those spikes in those years. Note also the decade long drought of big disasters in-between.

The paper:

Tracking Progress on the Economic Costs of Disasters Under the Indicators of the Sustainable Development Goals, Environmental Hazards.


The Sustainable Development Goals indicator framework identifies as an indicator of progress the objective of reducing disaster losses as a proportion of global gross domestic product. This short analysis presents data on this indicator from 1990. In constant 2017 US dollars, both weather-related and non-weather related catastrophe losses have increased, with a 74% increase in the former and 182% increase in the latter since 1990. However, since 1990 both overall and weather/climate losses have decreased as proportion of global GDP, indicating progress with respect to the SDG indicator. Extending this trend into the future will require vigilance to exposure, vulnerability and resilience in the face of uncertainty about the future frequency and magnitude of extreme events.

via Watts Up With That?

October 30, 2018 at 12:16PM


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s