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US Extreme Weather Caused 18 Climate Disasters and Damages for $165bn Last Year, Amid Rise in Pollution

CRISIS - Atmospheric CO2 Levels by Martina Igini Americas Jan 11th 20232 mins
US Extreme Weather Caused 18 Climate Disasters and Damages for $165bn Last Year, Amid Rise in Pollution

474 people lost their lives in a series of climate disasters that wreaked havoc across the country as pollution rates continued to climb. Hurricane Ian was by far the costliest calamity, resulting in $112.9 billion in damages. 

2022 was the nation’s third-costliest year ever for climate disasters. A total of 18 major climate disasters collectively racked up $165 billion in damages and claimed 474 lives, according to a new analysis published Tuesday. Hurricane Ian alone cost the nation about $112.9 billion.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) tracked the year’s biggest climate disasters, each costing at least $1 billion in damages. 2022 was behind only 2017 ($373.2bn) and 2005 ($253.5bn) as the nation’s most expensive year on record for billion-dollar calamities. Last year was also the eighth consecutive in which 10 or more billion-dollar extreme weather events have seriously affected the US.

US billion-dollar disaster events; climate disasters; us extreme weather 2022

UN Billion-Dollar Disaster Events 1980-2022. Image by NOAA.

2022 climate disasters included eleven severe storm events, three tropical cyclones, the Kentucky flooding, Western wildfires, the Central and Western drought, as well as December’s historic Arctic blast.

“We are seeing several trends of climate-enhanced disasters,” said Adam Smith, an applied climatologist at NOAA, adding that it seems unlikely they will reverse. “Perhaps we need to be more prepared for a future that has rapidly become our present.”

A second report by the Rhodium Group issued on Tuesday found that climate pollution in the US – the world’s largest historical emitter – increased 1.3% in 2022 compared to 2021, despite remaining lower than pre-pandemic values. The country remains the world’s largest historical emitter of climate pollution.

Both reports come as torrential downpours are inundating California, causing mudslides and forcing entire communities to evacuate. More than 33 million Californians are currently threatened by severe weather, with strong winds knocking out electricity to nearly 200,000 homes and businesses on Tuesday.

You might also like: Top 6 Environmental Issues the US Is Facing in 2023


About the Author

Martina Igini

Martina is the Managing Editor at Earth.Org. She holds two BA degrees, in Translation/Interpreting Studies and Journalism, and a MA in International Development from the University of Vienna. After working at the United Nations Global Communication Department in Vienna, she joined a newspaper in Italy as a reporter before moving to Hong Kong in 2020. Her interests include sustainability and the role of public policy in environmental protection with a focus on developing countries.

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