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The Unsustainable Trend of Natural Hazard Losses in the United States

Author

Listed:
  • 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)

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Melanie Gall & Kevin A. Borden & Christopher T. Emrich & Susan L. Cutter, 2011. "The Unsustainable Trend of Natural Hazard Losses in the United States," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 3(11), pages 1-25, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jsusta:v:3:y:2011:i:11:p:2157-2181:d:14794
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. Barthel, Fabian & Neumayer, Eric, 2010. "Normalizing economic loss from natural disasters: a global analysis," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 37601, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    4. 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.
    5. Gordon McBean, 2004. "Climate Change and Extreme Weather: A Basis for Action," Natural Hazards: Journal of the International Society for the Prevention and Mitigation of Natural Hazards, Springer;International Society for the Prevention and Mitigation of Natural Hazards, vol. 31(1), pages 177-190, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Lin Wang & Guofang Hu & Yaojie Yue & Xinyue Ye & Min Li & Jintao Zhao & Jinhong Wan, 2016. "GIS-Based Risk Assessment of Hail Disasters Affecting Cotton and Its Spatiotemporal Evolution in China," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 8(3), pages 1-20, February.
    2. repec:spr:nathaz:v:88:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s11069-017-2920-5 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Adam Smith & Jessica Matthews, 2015. "Quantifying uncertainty and variable sensitivity within the US billion-dollar weather and climate disaster cost estimates," Natural Hazards: Journal of the International Society for the Prevention and Mitigation of Natural Hazards, Springer;International Society for the Prevention and Mitigation of Natural Hazards, vol. 77(3), pages 1829-1851, July.
    4. Christoph Aubrecht & Patrick Meier & Hannes Taubenböck, 2017. "Speeding up the clock in remote sensing: identifying the ‘black spots’ in exposure dynamics by capitalizing on the full spectrum of joint high spatial and temporal resolution," Natural Hazards: Journal of the International Society for the Prevention and Mitigation of Natural Hazards, Springer;International Society for the Prevention and Mitigation of Natural Hazards, vol. 86(1), pages 177-182, March.
    5. 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 1-20, April.
    6. H. Moel & B. Jongman & H. Kreibich & B. Merz & E. Penning-Rowsell & P. Ward, 2015. "Flood risk assessments at different spatial scales," Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change, Springer, vol. 20(6), pages 865-890, August.
    7. repec:spr:nathaz:v:87:y:2017:i:2:d:10.1007_s11069-017-2806-6 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. 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.
    9. Kousky, Carolyn, 2014. "Informing climate adaptation: A review of the economic costs of natural disasters," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 576-592.
    10. Qianqian Wang & Dongchuan Wang & Yong Huang & Zhiheng Wang & Lihui Zhang & Qiaozhen Guo & Wei Chen & Wengang Chen & Mengqin Sang, 2015. "Landslide Susceptibility Mapping Based on Selected Optimal Combination of Landslide Predisposing Factors in a Large Catchment," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 7(12), pages 1-17, December.
    11. repec:gam:jsusta:v:7:y:2015:i:12:p:16653-16669:d:60761 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. repec:eee:jeeman:v:87:y:2018:i:c:p:150-164 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. repec:gam:jsusta:v:7:y:2015:i:12:p:16783-16800:d:60912 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. Eric Tate & Aaron Strong & Travis Kraus & Haoyi Xiong, 2016. "Flood recovery and property acquisition in Cedar Rapids, Iowa," Natural Hazards: Journal of the International Society for the Prevention and Mitigation of Natural Hazards, Springer;International Society for the Prevention and Mitigation of Natural Hazards, vol. 80(3), pages 2055-2079, February.
    15. Ji Guo & Hui Liu & Xianhua Wu & Jiong Gu & Shunfeng Song & Yinshan Tang, 2015. "Natural Disasters, Economic Growth and Sustainable Development in China―An Empirical Study Using Provincial Panel Data," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 7(12), pages 1-18, December.
    16. repec:gam:jsusta:v:8:y:2016:i:3:p:218:d:64730 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

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

    JEL classification:

    • Q - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics
    • Q0 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - General
    • Q2 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation
    • Q3 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation
    • Q5 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics
    • Q56 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth
    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products

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