The world's largest reinsurance company Munich Re has concluded that the risk from natural disasters is rising around the world, changing particularly quickly in North America, and climate change is the likely culprit.
The new report, highlighted by USA Today, looked at weather disasters going back three decades, finding that losses from weather disasters in the 1980s averaged $9 billion a year, but have climbed to $36 billion a year in the past decade.Munich Re concludes that climate change, combined with the effect of El Niño and La Niña, is increasing the risk from severe weather, causing "higher natural peril losses" and affecting "the onset of heat waves, droughts and thunderstorms, but also, in the long run, the intensity of tropical cyclones."
All pretty much standard climate science boilerplate as far as predicted effects of increased warming are concerned. However, this is the first time an insurance company of this magnitude has come out explicitly blaming climate change as being behind observed increases in natural disasters.
They don't have to be as conservative as climate scientists here, in terms of making the link between climate and extreme weather, and—as the USA Today piece points out—not all climate scientists, nor insurance companies, are willing to publicly make the connection.
That said, the balance is shifting, and it does appear that in making the connection between extreme weather and climate change we can safely stop saying that these are the sort of events that will happen in the future as the world warms, but rather these are the sort of events happening now because of warming.