Daphne Bramham: Batten down the hatches, the worst is yet to come
There is no novelty any more to seeing lines of vehicles streaming out of towns barely ahead of an unfolding disaster, or images of rescue helicopters swooping in to help.
One-in-200-year floods, rains, tides and fires are not only here, there is no indication that they are not going to become more and more frequent.
Yet it seems we’re little more prepared for it than if Elon Musk suddenly offered free flights to the moon as long as we can leave tomorrow.
We have heard from climate activists so often and for so long that their warnings don’t carry the same weight as they once did. More frightening — at least to me — is the sober judgment of earnest economists and dour data analysts at the world’s largest reinsurance firm, Zurich-based Swiss Re.
Underscoring that, he noted the February 2021 storm named Uri, which resulted in more than 170 million North Americans under storm alerts. Nearly 10 million people lost power and 237 died as the storm ripped down from Oregon, south to Mexico, then back up through the northeastern United States and southern Ontario.
Swiss Re’s estimate of insured losses was $15 billion US. Other insurance firms said total damages ranged between $195 billion and $295 billion US. Regardless, it terms of losses, Swiss Re ranks 2021’s first six months second only to 2011 when earthquakes struck both Japan and New Zealand.
It only gets worse. Even before this week’s mudslides and flooding, we have had heat domes and wildfires in Western Canada. Severe tornadoes and flooding swept through in Europe and Asia. Midway through 2021, weather disasters had resulted in 4,500 deaths.