Weather Disasters as Proportion of Global GDP: 1990-2017

1990-2017.DISGDP

NOTE: Figure above updated 8 January to correct an error in 2017 values (I failed to correct 2017 for inflation).Correction reduces the value from 0.44% to 0.41%. 2017 stays in 2nd place. Apologies.

The figure above shows the annual costs of weather disasters (data from Munich Re) as a proportion of global GDP (data from the UN), from 1990 to 2017.

Takeaways:

  • 2017 ranks 2nd to 2005;
  • The dataset is dominated by US hurricanes (accounting for about 70% of losses);
  • The trend from 1990 to 2017 is downward;
  • Mean and median are both 0.24%;
  • 6 of past 10 years have been below average;

The most important caveat: don’t use disasters to argue about trends in climate. Use climate data. Duh. (Pielke 2015 below has an accessible summary of IPCC conclusions on trends in weather extremes. See also IPCC SREX and AR5 .) Trends in the incidence of extreme weather help to explain this graph as the world has experienced a long stretch of good fortune (see Pielke 2017, linked below).

Comments, questions welcomed.

Further reading:

Mohleji, S., & Pielke Jr, R. 2014. Reconciliation of trends in global and regional economic losses from weather events: 1980–2008. Natural Hazards Review, 15(4).

Murray, V., & Ebi, K. L. 2012. IPCC special report on managing the risks of extreme events and disasters to advance climate change adaptation (SREX).

Pielke, Jr., R. 2017. Weather-related Natural Disasters: Should we be concerned about a reversion to the mean? Risk Frontiers

Pielke, Jr. R. 2015. The rightful place of science: disasters and climate change. (CSPO/ASU).

Stocker, T. F., et al. 2013. IPCC 2013: climate change 2013: the physical science basis. Contribution of working group I to the fifth assessment report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change.

UPDATE 8 January 2018 – Data for the chart above

YEAR Weather-related losses in 2013 $ Global GDP in 2013 $ losses/GDP
1990 80.7 34558.3 0.23%
1991 94.0 34916.9 0.27%
1992 112.0 35538.7 0.32%
1993 132.8 36056.9 0.37%
1994 82.2 37179.5 0.22%
1995 100.3 38283.0 0.26%
1996 113.6 39539.4 0.29%
1997 63.5 41015.9 0.15%
1998 170.4 42111.2 0.40%
1999 123.0 43448.9 0.28%
2000 63.5 45238.7 0.14%
2001 41.5 46076.7 0.09%
2002 111.6 47042.0 0.24%
2003 88.5 48243.0 0.18%
2004 144.1 50159.9 0.29%
2005 266.3 51943.4 0.51%
2006 69.7 54113.6 0.13%
2007 96.3 56259.6 0.17%
2008 141.8 57067.2 0.25%
2009 70.9 55707.6 0.13%
2010 123.0 57952.2 0.21%
2011 170.8 59595.5 0.29%
2012 153.9 61647.7 0.25%
2013 125.3 63805.4 0.20%
2014 94.5 66038.6 0.14%
2015 77.3 68350.0 0.11%
2016 128.2 70742.2 0.18%
2017 298.6 73218.2 0.41%
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20 thoughts on “Weather Disasters as Proportion of Global GDP: 1990-2017

  1. What about in absolute terms? One would hope the trend vs gdp is negative we spend millions of dollars to achieve this goal. Not sure what the fuck this has to do with climate. Obviously, im aware of the relationship but the implied bs here is that climate chataspohies are on the decline which i don’t believe is actually the case.

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  2. sorry missed the final caveat:

    “The most important caveat: don’t use disasters to argue about trends in climate. Use climate data. Duh. (Pielke 2015 below has an accessible summary of IPCC conclusions on trends in weather extremes. See also IPCC SREX and AR5 .) Trends in the incidence of extreme weather help to explain this graph as the world has experienced a long stretch of good fortune (see Pielke 2017, linked below).”

    Ignore the previous comment.

    Like

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