Greg McMahon

Greg McMahon

Greg McMahon, Australia.

Presentation Title: Is climate change responsible for the rising cost of natural disasters?

While the increase in the global average air temperature since pre-industrial times is now well established, this increase is poorly correlated with the occurrence of extreme weather events and their local impacts in terms of property losses. This talk will examine rising insured and economic costs of natural disasters and the degree to which these increases can be attributed to anthropogenic climate change. It will utilise the Insurance Council of Australia’s Natural Disaster List of insurance sector losses since 1967, and Risk Frontiers’ in-house PerilAUS database of Australian deaths and building destruction since 1900, to show that the increasing losses can be firmly sheeted home to increasing populations and wealth in vulnerable locations. In short there is a lot more stuff in dangerous locations and the IPCC agrees with this conclusion. Other published work by Risk Frontiers shows that finding a statistically significant climate change signal in times series of disaster losses may take many decades to hundreds of years. This arises from trying to find a small signal in volatile loss histories. In the meantime irrespective of the future trajectory of climate change and its impact of extreme weather events, disaster losses will continue to increase unabated in the absence of improved land-use planning decisions.

Presented by Ken Pearce

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