A study by Christian Aid has found that climate change linked events have caused at least $84.8 billion in damage in 2018. Ten of these events cost over a billion dollars each and four over $7 billion each. The study has also pointed out that every populated continent was hit by an extreme-weather event which was linked to rising global temperatures.
Hurricanes Florence and Michael in the United States (US) were the most damaging, with the former causing damage worth $17 billion and the latter $15 billion. The US also suffered $9 billion in damages from wildfires.
It was a difficult year for Japan as well. Floods killed at least 230 people and caused $7 billion worth of damage, which were then followed by Typhoon Jebi, which caused $9.3 billion in damages and was the most powerful storm experienced by the country in a quarter century.
The report’s authors gathered these total cost figures using data from governments, banks and insurance firms. In some cases, the figures only covered insured losses.
The study states that scientists believe that the likelihood of such events is also increasing in parts of the world where attributed studies linking extreme weather events to climate change have not been conducted. Droughts and wildfires seem to be the biggest concern.
“Climate change is something still often talked about as a future problem, not least because we know the consequences of the warming climate are so devastating and don’t want to face up to what is already happening,” said Dr Kat Kramer from Christian Aid.
Comparing slow moving weather events like droughts and rising sea-levels to more dramatic, headline making events like hurricanes and wildfires, the report states that the former has begun to affect millions of lives.
According to the World Meteorological Organization’s initial observations, 2018 is likely to be the fourth warmest on record with the Earth’s average temperature hovering close to 1°C above the levels recorded in 1850-1900. Since 1850, 2016 is the warmest year on record with a central estimate of 1.15 °C above that baseline.