Reality Check: The actual number for global losses as a percent of US GDP is closer to 0.1%, with the maximum about 1.2% in 2005. The total cost of all hurricanes since 1900 in normalized dollars is about $1.4 trillion. Themedia (in general) rarely question numbers given to them from the reinsurance industry and on disasters and climate change have a strange aversion to the peer reviewed scientific literature. Innumeracy.
Reality Check: Lubchenco and Karl somehow failed to note that NOAA and NCDC have cautioned against drawing any such conclusions from the “billion dollar disasters.” And even though Lubchenco and Karl cite the recent IPCC Special Report on Extreme Events, they also somehow forgot to mention this part: “Long-term trends in economic disaster losses adjusted for wealth and population increases have not been attributed to climate change, but a role for climate change has not been excluded.” Deceiving.
Reality Check: The ability of the reinsurance industry to accurately reflect the state of the science of disasters and climate change has long been questionable. The industry is currently awash in money, a condition that Guy Carpenpter characterized just a few months ago as “the reinsurance sector remains adequately capitalized with a significant excess capital position” (PDF). In such a context, when reinsurers ask the government to take on some of their risks justified by “climate change,” you should hold tight to your wallet. Conflicted.