Extreme Weather and its Effect on Industry

The term “extreme weather” has become an all too familiar phrase in describing the environment. Just this past year, countless stories of floods, storms, droughts, and heat waves were featured in the news. Families from Minot, N.D. have only recently begun returning to their homes, which were damaged by the overflowing of the Souris River last month. The area is having a tough time coping with both emotional and economic losses. Families have found the damage to be almost unbearable. Parts of Iowa have also experienced significant damages, especially in the agriculture sector, with the recent flooding of the Missouri River.  It is conditions such as these that has prompted Weather Underground’s Jeff Masters to claim that we haven't experienced these types of weather extremes in nearly two hundred years. Although we are only half way through 2011, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA ) already ranks it as one of the most extreme weather years in history. Essentially, all indications show that the weather will continue to get more extreme as global temperatures continue to climb in the upcoming years.

One of the most important things for us to figure out is the financial toll that extreme weather levies on society. How much damage will all of this extreme weather cost those who are unfortunate enough to be in its path? The cost is not easily assesed because the damage from extreme weather extends far beyond its immediate path of destruction. The National Center for Atmospheric Research has compiled estimated “price tags” of weather variations. Currently, they estimate that the U.S. spends $485 billion annually on extreme weather related incidents. Furthermore, these estimates also display which industries are most sensitive to extreme weather changes. According to their data, the mining industry (14%) and the agriculture sector (12%) are most susceptible to annual losses from extreme weather. When figures such as $485 billion are thrown around, it should become clear that climate change is no joke.

Earth Day Network Intern - Simon Mercado