Most disasters are measured in raw dollars. Hurricane Katrina caused $110 billion in damage. The figure for Hurricane Sandy was $70 billion. The new metric of climate disasters is disaster cost per person. It is hard to see the value of this approach.
In a recent report titled “Counting the Cost 2023: A Year of Climate Breakdown”, 20 climate disasters were reviewed. The math is inexact. The methodology was described as follows: “This approach involves dividing the total damages caused by each disaster by the total population of the affected area, thereby providing a per-person economic burden estimation.” Who decides how many people were affected? Who decides the cost of the catastrophe? Since the quality of this data varies from country to country, it is impossible to get apples-to-apples metrics. The authors admit they had trouble with expense discrepancies.
The study claims the most expensive disaster was the Hawaii wildfire in August. One hundred people were killed, and the estimated cost was $5.5 billion. That number came from NOAA. The “cost per person” from that catastrophe was $4,161.
At the far end of the spectrum, in March of last year, a cyclone killed 85 people. The cost per person for the disaster was $9.
The research makes a point that was not the primary purpose of its authors. The disasters were in Hawaii, Peru, China, Vanuatu, New Zealand, Libya, Chile, Mayamar, Mexico, and Malawi. This shows the extent to which climate change spares no part of the world, no matter what accountants and auditors have set as the price.