An early corporate voice expressing concern over the potential impact of global warming and resulting climate change (since each disaster hits it economically), Munich Re sees those concerns confirmed. From the report:
By and large, however, 2004 was dominated by extreme atmospheric events and weather-related natural catastrophes, both in terms of the number of events and the monetary losses they generated. The past year thus confirmed the fear that has long been expressed by Munich Re: global warming—very probably triggered by human activity—is leading not only to an increase in the frequency and intensity of exceptional weather events but also to new kinds of weather risks and greater loss potentials:
A hurricane formed off the Brazilian coast for the first time since observations began—this area had been considered hurricane-free.
Hurricane Alex intensified to a Category 3 storm on the Saffir-Simpson Scale in the region of 40°N—unusually far from the Tropics. Tropical cyclones usually weaken or subside completely in these northern latitudes.
Florida was hit by four hurricanes in the space of a few weeks—making it the costliest hurricane season ever for insurers.
Japan was hit by ten tropical cyclones—a record number that was unequalled throughout the previous century.
Climate change is often discussed in longer-range terms—effects that might occur in decades or by the end of the century.
Munich Re’s report underscores the human and economic cost of even the short-term effects. The ongoing accumulation of scientific research and measured data underscores the need for urgent action to meet the climate change challenge—not just in terms of longer-term mitigation, but also to respond to shorter-term disasters.