A recent study by insurance group Munich Re reports that North America has been the most economically affected by the rise of natural catastrophes across the globe in recent decades. The 274-page report entitled “Severe weather in North America” states that between 1980 and 2011 the overall loss burden from weather disasters was $1,060 billion, with insurance losses stacking up to $510 billion and a loss of over 30,000 lives. The study also reports that the number of weather-related losses in North America has quintupled in the last three decades compared to an increase factor of 4 in Asia, 2.5 in Africa, 2 in Europe and 1.5 in South America.
According to the study, climate change is the driver behind these losses at it has a unique effect on the “formation of heat-waves, droughts, intense precipitation events, and in the long run most probably also tropical cyclone intensity.” Storms account for 76% of insurance losses ($805 billion since 1980) while heat-waves and droughts make up 15% ($160 billion). Overall, the study shows that not only have economic losses due to climate change been the most severe in North America, but they are also “trending upward.”