DATA: Tired of hearing Floridians whine about hurricane Frances, Ivan, and El Destructo? (Good Ol' Destructo hasn't been officially announced yet, but my spidey-sense is tingling. And I heard a dog barking this morning. Don't dogs always bark before crazy weather? They sure do in the movies, and that's proof positive in my book! Or maybe I'm thinking of earthquakes. Eh, who cares.)
Well I was bouncing around online looking for info on why there seem to be so many extreme weather events this year. Along with the answer1, I found an interesting paper on why the U.S. is spending more and more on natural disasters.
Here's a cute little graph that demonstrates the problem. (Too bad they did it in actual dollars rather then adjusted dollars. I think we all know how real estate in urban areas has grown exponentially in price and this graph doesn't disregard that inflation.)
The bottom line?
The long-term economic impact of low-probability, high-cost events such as earthquakes and hurricanes are not being incorporated into the planning and development of our societal infrastructure. Economic incentives for responsible land use have been stifled by legislated insurance rates and federal aid programs that effectively subsidize development in hazard-prone areas. And while there will always be great political pressure to provide economic relief after a disaster, there has been little political interest in requiring predisaster mitigation.
1 Turns out this year has had more hurricanes then the average year, but for the past several years we have been below average so this year seems much more extreme then it actually is.