black swanPhoto: Stewart Morris

Cross-posted from RH Reality Check.

Welcome to the age of the Black Swan.

The tornado that nearly leveled the city of Joplin, Mo., in May was a Black Swan; so was the 9.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunami that rocked Japan in March; and the “hundred-year floods” that now take place every couple of years in the American Midwest.

A Black Swan is a low-probability, high-impact event that tears at the very fabric of civilization. And they are becoming more common: Weather-related disasters spiked in 2010, killing nearly 300,000 people and costing $130 billion.