Nov 16, 2023 - Energy & Environment

Climate change is already costing the U.S. billions

Number of billion-dollar natural disaster events in the U.S.
Data: NCEI; Chart: Jared Whalen/Axios

The latest National Climate Assessment may give pause to both the financial sector and homeowners.

Why it matters: The cost of extreme weather events is projected to climb in the near-term and is already at least $150 billion per year in direct damages alone. (The report notes that is a conservative estimate.)

  • Billion-dollar disasters are occurring far more frequently now than they did in 1980, the findings show, going from about one every four months to one every three weeks.
  • Rising frequency and total costs are related to a booming population and increased expanse of the built environment, as well as climate change.

By the numbers: The situation is already stark.

  • Wildfire smoke already reduces earnings by $144 billion per year.
  • Inland flooding can reduce housing prices by 4.6% in 100-year floodplains, based on studied estimates.
  • Homes projected to be inundated by 1 foot of sea level rise cost 14.7% less than similar homes away from the climate risk, and homes near one recent wildfire are typically valued at 9.3% below safer ones.

What they're saying: "Not only are these direct costs, things like higher medical expenses, higher food prices, insurance premiums, repair costs, infrastructure damage, and so on," said Delavane Diaz, a report co-author.

  • "There's also these indirect costs on intangible non market goods like health and wellbeing, ecosystems and biodiversity," she told Axios.
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