In February, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced that 2018 was the fourth-hottest year in the agency's 139-year climate record, exceeded only by the three years previous. These findings were echoed in separate analyses by NASA, the World Meteorological Organization and the United Kingdom Met Office. According to NOAA, the average global temperature in 2018 was 1.42[degrees]F above the 20th-century average, making it the 42nd consecutive year with an above-average global temperature.
But rising temperatures are only part of the story. Weather and climate-related disasters also took their toll around the world in 2018, punctuated by hurricanes and wildfires in the United States, typhoons and floods in Japan, and winter storms and drought in Europe. Munich Re put the cost of 2018 disasters at $160 billion.
The costliest of these was California's Camp fire, which accounted for $16.5 billion in losses, followed by Hurricanes Michael and Florence, which racked up $16 billion and $14 billion in losses, respectively. In fact, NOAA reported that there were 14 billion-dollar disasters in the United States alone in 2018, totaling more than $90 billion in damages.
While these are sobering figures, the larger issue is how they fit...