According to estimates from the National Center for Atmospheric Research, the baseline cost of extreme weather (which has always been with us, but which is steadily getting worse due to climate change) in the United States is $485 billion a year -- 3.4 percent of the country's GDP. This is a complicated number -- it includes not only immediate costs from weather destruction, but also lost crops, power outages, resource usage, retail demand changes, and other indirect effects. Plus, it takes into account the fact that severe weather can be a boon for some industries (snow for ski resorts, for instance, or droughts for …
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Jess Zimmerman is the editor of Grist List.
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