Climate change is increasingly costly in the U.S. And its manmade nature is increasingly clear.
Residents of California, Puerto Rico, and Texas will need no reminder that the climate was unusually cruel in 2017. But now official statistics are putting those fires and storms in perspective. The United States was struck by 16 climate and weather disasters that each caused at least a billion dollars in damage. At that clip, 2017 now matches 2011 as having the greatest number of billion-dollar disasters.
But 2017 blew through the previous record for the cumulative cost of these events. Losses in 2017 exceeded $306.2 billion, well above the $214.8 billion in losses during 2005 (values are adjusted for inflation). For more background on the connection between climate change and extreme weather, explore C2ES resources on extreme weather.
Recent cold weather in parts of the U.S. might leave some people wondering whether the 2017 events were a fluke, as opposed to indicators of long-term trends. But the body of evidence supports a long-term warming trend, and no single event disproves that.