The Daily Chart: A Tale of Two Storms

Joe Biden’s main point of his brief visit to the Florida panhandle in the aftermath of Hurricane Idalia was climate change uber alles, despite the fact that the “consensus” science of the IPCC, not to mention actual hurricane data for the last 50 years, justifies no such claim. So Plan B is to display the rising costs of weather-related disasters, which the financial press (I’m looking at you Barron’s) laps up with nary a question about its rectitude. Like this:

At least the damage loss chart is adjusted for inflation, which Al Gore neglected to do back in his horror film An Inconvenient Truth. (He later removed his unadjusted chart of climate-related losses after Roger Pielke Jr. pointed out how appallingly misleading the chart was.) But does this chart actually demonstrate that there are rising climate-related weather events, or does it rather display how much richer we are, building more—and more expensive—homes and buildings in the path of tropical storms? To be sure, insurance rates have been rising lately in areas vulnerable to storm damage, but it is not clear how much this is due to rising valuation of property at risk, and how much is due to perverse insurance regulation at the state level.

Another way of thinking about the matter can be taken in from these two headlines from 120 years apart regarding landfalling storms in Florida:

Another vindication of the general axiom “wealthier is healthier.”

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