Billion Dollar Disasters on the Rise as Climate Change Continues


Since the 1980s the increase in billion dollar disasters due to climate change continues to grow, with this last decade – the 2010s – having the highest cost of billion dollar disasters not only in Illinois, but also in the United States. According to Climate Central, the 2010s had 119 billion dollar disasters, with a total cost exceeding $800 billion, accounting for nearly half of the total disasters and cost of those four decades.

Many states across the United States show similar trends, with Illinois having doubled the cost of billion dollar disasters since the 2000s – by nearly 23 more. Analysis showed that states in the central part of the country had the largest increase than any other decade with severe weather being the primary cause.

As climate change continues many of these disasters will continue to grow, although some of the weather/climate extremes are easier to identify than others. For every degree the temperature of the atmosphere rises, the amount of water vapor it can hold increases by 4 percent. This can help fuel heavy rain producing thunderstorms, leading to an increase in flooding or snowfall in colder regions of the country. Heavy and prolonged periods of rain not only cause increased river flooding, but can also cause crop damage and coastal flooding.

Every region faces its own set of climate disasters, which could become worse with increased climate change. However, climate adaptation measures can significantly reduce those damages.

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