Rhein on Energy and Climate

Munich-Re, the big re-insurance company, which has been following natural catastrophes very scrupulous for many years, has just submitted its traditional damage report for 2010.

950 natural catastrophes were registered last year, the highest number since 1980, causing financial damage of $ 130 billion, just about equal to the average of the past 10 years.

However, these apparently positive figures conceal the fact that humanity, and in particular the USA and the international insurance business, has been extremely lucky in 2010. Indeed, thanks to favourable weather conditions in the North Atlantic we have escaped major catastrophes and huge losses of property. The North Atlantic has been hit by one of the severest hurricane season, in terms of numbers and intensity, during the last 100 years. 19 “named” tropical storms were registered, more than ever during the last hundred years, except in 1931 (21) and 2005 (28).

But miraculously none of these touched the US territory.

Humanity should not be deceived by these happy circumstances, but be aware that it was just extremely lucky.

There is a verifiable trend towards more frequent and more intensive natural catastrophes. The USA and the Caribbean islands must brace for any of the following hurricane seasons hitting their countries, with all the terrible damage this will imply for the people living in the coastal areas.

Maybe the US population needs such a wake-up call to finally engage resolutely in reducing its wasteful abuse of fossil energies.

Brussels 12.01.11 Eberhard Rhein

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