In February, the daffodils in my neighbor’s front yard emerged.
The perennial known for being one of the first plants of spring continues to bloom with beautiful yellow flowers.
Only spring doesn’t start until March 20. The confused plant is just another of many signs that our weather is out of whack. Blame climate change. It’s real and threatening. Climate change deniers don’t agree, and among them are GOP presidential candidates. But they can hardly refute our increasing insurance rates, reflecting the rising risk of continued human consumption of fossil fuels.
The American Academy of Actuaries last year released a report on climate change titled “Essential Elements” on the frequency and severity of weather-related events. The report notes increases in droughts in the western U.S., higher rainfall and snowfall in the East, and greater damage from tornadoes, hurricanes and other extreme climate events.
Because of climate change, “insurers are facing higher property and casualty insurance losses, which ultimately leads to higher costs to consumers and businesses,” the report notes.
The actuaries report put the total number of global natural loss events in 2014 at 980 with overall losses estimated at $110 billion. They claimed 7,700 lives. In 2014, from May 18-23, severe storms did $2.9 billion damage; severe winter damage, $1.7 billion from Jan. 5-8; and severe warmer weather damage from June 3-5, $1.3 billion.
Expect the numbers to keep climbing. It’s why the United Nations climate change summit was in Paris last year. The urgency to reduce greenhouse gases brought the nations of the world together to enact a plan to reduce fossil fuel consumption. They hope to stop the melting of arctic ice, which raises sea levels, swamping coastal areas. Climate change has caused droughts to spread with more wildfires and more severe storms, causing more property damage and more refugees. North America is particularly threatened. In the last 30 years, the number of weather-related loss events grew by a factor of five, the report said.
Asia had a four-fold increase; Africa, 2.5; two in Europe; and 1.5 in South America. North America has every type of weather risk — hurricanes, tornadoes, drought, flood, wildfire and storms. Blame the lack of an east-west mountain range in North America to prevent southern warm air from clashing with cold Canadian weather fronts.
The report said the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recorded 80 U.S. weather/climate events that each had losses exceeding $1 billion from 2004 to 2013. That compared with only 46 events in the previous decade.
“Water damage has surged over the past 10 years, in large part caused by increased hurricane activity,” the report said. “NOAA reported 23 flood and hurricane events with losses exceeding $1 billion between 2004 and 2013, compared with 16 from 1994-2003.”
Severe storms in the last decade resulted in the biggest increase from weather-related events. There were 40 tornadoes, hail storms, severe thunderstorms, derechos and flash floods from 2004 to 2013 with losses exceeding $1 billion compared with only 13 between 1994 and 2003.
The American Academy of Actuaries is part of a North American actuarial group, developing the Actuaries Climate Index, measuring the frequency and intensity of extremes in temperature, precipitation, drought, wind, sea levels and soil moisture in the U.S. and Canada. People need to know who and what are at risk.
From that families in the most affected areas can decide whether to move or just pay more in insurance, which is destined to go up.