Home Education Climate change has caused $ 4 billion in damage from the typhoon

Climate change has caused $ 4 billion in damage from the typhoon

Climate change has caused $ 4 billion in damage from the typhoon

CLIMATEWIRE | Scientists have found the imprint of global warming on Typhoon Hagibis, a monster cyclone that swept across Japan in 2019, killing about hundreds of people and damaging thousands of homes.

A new study – published Wednesday in the journal Climate change – found that storms occurred 67 percent more often than in the world without climate change. Researchers have also gone even further and translated the impact of warming into economic costs: of the $ 10 billion caused by Typhoon Hagibis, they estimate that about $ 4 billion can be attributed to climate change.

In other words, if global warming had not occurred, the storm would have been much less destructive.

“We focused on this particular event because Hagibis was one of the most devastating storms in Japan’s history,” said lead author Sihan Lee, a senior fellow at Oxford University.

In fact, it was even more harmful than a new study suggests. The study considers only the costs associated with insurance losses. It does not include the many costs that can be associated with other consequences of a storm, including loss of life and well-being.

Research is the latest addition to a popular field of research known as the science of attribution. The field specializes in identifying the effects of climate change on individual weather phenomena such as hurricanes, heat waves, floods and forest fires.

Although the science of attribution is a relatively young industry – it only began about two decades ago – it has advanced rapidly in recent years. Today, hundreds of peer-reviewed attribution studies have been published in the scientific literature. Now scientists can study almost any type of climate-related disaster, and they have also become faster. Research, which previously took weeks or months, can now be conducted in near real time.

And the field is still evolving. Typical attribution studies focus solely on how climate change has affected the likelihood or intensity of a given weather. Looking at economic costs is a relatively new development – so far only a few studies have done so.

But today’s study of Typhoon Hagibis will not be the last.

Calculation of the “cost of inaction”

A 2020 study on Hurricane Harvey and separate 2020 study on droughts and floods in New Zealand, both led by climatologist David Fram, have developed a basic methodology for linking weather-related damage to climate change.

The method, in fact, investigates the effect of warming on the probability of this event, which is already well established in the science of attribution. It then takes a share of the risk associated with climate change and applies it to the costs associated with the event.

Hurricane Harvey’s study, for example, found that warming is likely about three-quarters of the risk of such a serious event. The researchers then concluded that about three-quarters of Harvey’s damage, estimated at $ 90 billion, could be due to climate change, or about $ 67 billion.

Harvey’s study focused primarily on how climate change has affected the legendary storm precipitation that was responsible for most of the devastating floods it caused on the Gulf Coast in 2017. 2021 study on Superstorm Sandy, on the other hand, took a slightly different approach.

Most of the damage inflicted on Sandy in the northeast in 2012 was caused by a storm surge – water that pours from the ocean when a storm hits the shore. Higher sea levels are associated with more harmful storm surges. Thus, Sandy’s study investigated the impact of climatic sea level rise on storm-related floods. He then translated that impact into economic costs, concluding that a loss of about $ 8 billion could be blamed on climate change.

A new study of Typhoon Hagibis uses a method similar to Hurricane Harvey. Much of the typhoon damage was due to heavy rainfall.

This is a relatively simple and straightforward method, said study co-author Frederick Otto, a climatologist at Imperial College London and co-founder of the World Weather Attribution research consortium, which specializes in the science of attribution.

However, she said the field would benefit from additional research examining more potential methods that link weather-related costs to climate change. Since this is still a relatively new type of research, it has plenty of room for development.

“I think it would be great if we had more people working on it, and for more people to come up with different ways to do that to see how reliable these results are, depending on what methodologies you choose “She said.

These types of research can potentially have far-reaching implications that go beyond scientific value. Legal experts often suggest that attribution research, in general, can be used as evidence in climate-related lawsuits.

Research showing exactly the impact of climate change on economic costs may have an even greater potential to influence climate lawsuits and policies in the future. But you probably need a little more time to start this area, Otto said.

Typical attribution studies that do not look at costs have well-established standard methods. These techniques have been used in hundreds of studies and have been evaluated by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. On the other hand, adding harm to the mix is ​​a new frontier.

“I think if you went to court right now, someone could easily make holes in that,” Otto said. “For it to be really useful in all the contexts in which you would like to use it, we need more people to work [it] and more people are doing it. ”

Climate litigation is just one of the possible arenas where such research can be useful. They also have great potential to influence public perceptions of climate change and the risks associated with it, he suggested.

“I think we still greatly underestimate how much climate change really costs,” she said.

Storms like Hagibis are likely to become more devastating as the world continues to warm, she said. The same goes for many other types of climate disasters around the world. Reducing emissions and stopping global warming as quickly as possible can limit the growth in costs associated with these events.

Studies that directly link the cost of individual weather events to climate change may make the problem more sensitive to the population, he suggested.

“I think that’s really not enough in that we need to maybe act a little faster,” she said. “People think about the cost of mitigation, but never about the cost of inaction.”

Reprinted from E&E News courtesy of POLITICO, LLC. Copyright 2022. E&E News provides important news for professionals in the field of energy and the environment.

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