The World Is Getting Safer From Floods


Editor’s note: As November’s global climate conference in Glasgow draws near, important facts about climate change don’t always make it into the dominant media coverage. We’re here to help. Each Thursday contributor Bjorn Lomborg will provide some important background so readers can have a better understanding of the true effects of climate change and the real costs of climate policy.

Though the images of abandoned cars in waterlogged East Coast streets might make you think otherwise, the relative toll that floods take on the U.S.—in property and lives—has decreased over time. Flooding costs as a share of gross domestic product declined almost 10-fold since 1903 to 0.05% of GDP, while annual flood death risk—fatalities per million—dropped almost threefold. World-wide data are sparser, but flood research shows costs relative to GDP and deaths relative to population have decreased globally from 1980 to 2010.



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