Last year, 688 people were killed in 20 major weather and climate disasters in the U.S., according to new data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
These 20 events cost a total of $145 billion, with each costing more than $1 billion. They included one drought, two floods, two hurricanes, a wildfire event and a winter storm.
The NOAA has been measuring such disasters since 1980 and has seen an average of 7.4 events per year since then, adjusted to the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
Deaths from these CPI-adjusted events have also increased in recent years. There has been an average of 361 deaths each year from billion-dollar storms overall since 1980, but an average of 904 per year over the past five years.
The figures raised concerns from climate advocates, who said they are evidence of climate change’s increasing death toll.
“This report underscores the reality of how the climate crisis is already affecting people’s lives and the economy,” said a statement from Rachel Cleetus, the policy director and lead economist for the Union of Concerned Scientists’s climate and energy program.
“We simply cannot adapt to runaway climate change. To curtail the worst climate and extreme weather disasters, policymakers must take drastic actions to rein in global warming emissions across all sectors of the economy during this consequential decade and invest in climate resilience,” Cleetus said.
The report comes as the future of the Biden administration’s climate and social agenda remains in jeopardy with Senate swing vote Joe ManchinJoe ManchinVoting rights failed in the Senate — where do we go from here? Biden: A good coach knows when to change up the team The Memo: Biden looks for way to win back deflated Black voters MORE (D-W.Va.) digging in on his resistance to key provisions.
Manchin, however, has signaled that the package’s climate components are one area where he and other lawmakers may be able to come to an agreement.