Question of the Day
Accounting for increased population and economic development of U.S. coastal regions, have economic damages from hurricanes generally increased over the past century?
A 2018 paper in the journal "Nature Sustainability" estimates the normalized economic damages from hurricanes in the U.S. during 1900 to 2017 and finds there is "no trend" and "a very high degree of consistency" over time. Per the paper: "A normalization estimates direct economic losses (damage) from an historical extreme event were it to occur under contemporary societal conditions." As evidence that global warming is causing economic damage, environmental activists sometimes cite a 2013 paper in the journal "Natural Hazards" that found "an increasing trend" in billion-dollar natural disasters. However, on the 24th page of this paper, the authors reveal that their "dataset is only adjusted for the CPI [inflation] over time, not currently incorporating any changes in exposure (e.g., as reflected by shifts in wealth or population)." They then say that "the magnitude of such increasing trends is greatly diminished when applied to data normalized for exposure."