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The Unsustainable Trend of Natural Hazard Losses in the United States

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  • Melanie Gall

    ()
    (Department of Geography & Anthropology, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA 70803, USA)

  • Kevin A. Borden

    ()
    (Digital Sandbox Inc., 8260 Greensboro Drive #450, McLean, VA 22102, USA)

  • Christopher T. Emrich

    ()
    (Hazards & Vulnerability Research Institute, Department of Geography, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC 29201, USA)

  • Susan L. Cutter

    ()
    (Hazards & Vulnerability Research Institute, Department of Geography, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC 29201, USA)

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    Abstract

    In the United States, direct losses from natural hazards are on the rise with hurricanes, flooding, and severe storms contributing about three quarters of the total damages. While losses from severe storms have been stable over the past fifty years, hurricane and flood losses have tripled. Per capita losses are also increasing showing that impacts outpace population growth with high per capita losses occurring largely in the Southeast and Midwest. If the loss escalation of the past two decades continues into the future, then direct losses of $300 to $400 billion within a single decade are possible. In order to reverse this trend, sustainable development, vulnerability reduction, and hazard mitigation must become priorities and current loss reduction efforts need to be evaluated and re-assessed in terms of their effectiveness. These conclusions are drawn from the analysis of spatial and temporal trends in direct losses from natural hazards using SHELDUS TM data from 1960 through 2009. Loss data are adjusted for inflation, population, and wealth to capture both trends in total losses and per capita losses. The loss data are then compared to disaster-related federal government and private insurance expenditures.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by MDPI, Open Access Journal in its journal Sustainability.

    Volume (Year): 3 (2011)
    Issue (Month): 11 (November)
    Pages: 2157-2181

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    Handle: RePEc:gam:jsusta:v:3:y:2011:i:11:p:2157-2181:d:14794

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    Web page: http://www.mdpi.com/

    Related research

    Keywords: natural hazards; losses; hazard mitigation; United States; severe weather; climate change; resilience;

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    References

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    1. David Godschalk & Adam Rose & Elliott Mittler & Keith Porter & Carol Taylor West, 2009. "Estimating the value of foresight: aggregate analysis of natural hazard mitigation benefits and costs," Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 52(6), pages 739-756.
    2. Thomas A. Garrett & Russell S. Sobel, 2003. "The Political Economy of FEMA Disaster Payments," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 41(3), pages 496-509, July.
    3. Howard C. Kunreuther & Erwann O. Michel-Kerjan, 2009. "At War with the Weather: Managing Large-Scale Risks in a New Era of Catastrophes," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262012820, December.
    4. Gordon McBean, 2004. "Climate Change and Extreme Weather: A Basis for Action," Natural Hazards, International Society for the Prevention and Mitigation of Natural Hazards, vol. 31(1), pages 177-190, January.
    5. Silvio Schmidt & Claudia Kemfert & Peter Höppe, 2008. "Tropical Cyclone Losses in the USA and the Impact of Climate Change: A Trend Analysis Based on a New Dataset," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 802, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
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    Cited by:
    1. Won Seok Jang & Jonggun Kim & Bernard A. Engel & Sung Won Kang & Youngkon Park & Heetaek Yoon & Kyoung Jae Lim & Younghun Jung & Yongchul Shin, 2014. "Development of a Prototype Web GIS-Based Disaster Management System for Safe Operation of the Next Generation Bimodal Tram, South Korea—Focused Flooding and Snowfall," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 6(4), pages 1776-1795, April.
    2. Stafford, Kathryn & Danes, Sharon M. & Haynes, George W., 2013. "Long-term family firm survival and growth considering owning family adaptive capacity and federal disaster assistance receipt," Journal of Family Business Strategy, Elsevier, vol. 4(3), pages 188-200.

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