<em>Patt Morrison</em> is known for its innovative discussions of local politics and culture, as well as its presentation of the effects of national and world news on Southern California.
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A hefty price tag comes with increasingly frequent extreme weather events

Floodwater nearly covers a street sign June 26, 2011 in Burlington, North Dakota.
Floodwater nearly covers a street sign June 26, 2011 in Burlington, North Dakota.
Scott Olson/Getty Images

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Every day it seems as though a new natural disaster is reported on the news—flooding in North Dakota, a tornado shaking Alabama, a wildfire consuming Arizona—but the increasing prevalence of “extreme weather” and its causes are seldom fully addressed. Though we all know that individual environmental events are expensive to clean up after (for example, Hurricane Katrina came with an $81 billion price tag), the cumulative costs are not always recognized, and the National Center for Atmospheric Research only recently calculated the annual $485 billion spent on managing the consequences of extreme weather. The Center also found that particular industries, such as agriculture, mining and utilities, as well as states can suffer from volatile weather conditions, which can powerfully affect economic output. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has also reported an increase of 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit in the United States’ “normal temperature” since the 1970s, confirming the reality of global warming for some researchers, and dispelling any doubt that it will continue to get hotter. How wild will the weather be in the coming months, and how much will it cost? Join Patt for a discussion of our changing climate, and weigh in with your environmental questions and comments.


John Carey, science journalist and author of a recent 3-part series on extreme weather and climate change published on Scientific American.com

Jay Gulledge, senior scientist and director of the science and impacts program at the Pew Center on Global Climate Change

Jeffrey Lazo, lead author of study on the costs of extreme weather events; director of the Societal Impacts Program (SIP) at the National Center for Atmospheric Research