Twenty extreme weather disasters killed 688 people in the U.S. last year and collectively inflicted at least $145 billion in damage, NOAA reported Monday. 2021 was the deadliest year for climate extremes in a decade (even with likely under-estimated death tolls from the Pacific Northwest heatwave and Texas freeze), and NOAA also determined 2021 was the fourth-hottest year on record in the U.S. By far the most expensive disaster, Hurricane Ida left a $74 billion trail of destruction from Louisiana to New York and four months later residents are finally moving from tent camps into trailers.
“2021 was, in essence, watching the climate projections of the past come true,” Rachel Licker, a senior climate scientist at UCS, told CNN. “The fingerprints of climate change were all over many of the billion-dollar events that hit the US this year.”
Just from disasters that caused at least $1 billion in damage, extreme weather has inflicted $750 billion of damage on the U.S. in the past five years alone. The reports came as Joe Manchin (D.-W.Va.) and Senate Republicans hold up the Build Back Better Act and its $555 billion in climate and clean energy provisions.
The NOAA reports also came the same day a Rhodium Group report found U.S. climate pollution jumped more than 6% from 2020 to 2021, while Munich Re announced that globally, natural disasters cost the world $280 billion in 2021, of which only $120 billion was covered by insurers. (E&E News, AP, Earther, CNN, Washington Post $, Politico Pro $, Axios, The Hill, Reuters, Forbes; Ida trailers: Houma Today, AP; Munich Re: FT $, Bloomberg $), Reuters, AP; Joe Manchin: Rolling Stone)