Top 5 Climate Statistics that Should Shock Us

Author: Jacob Miller and Corey Robinson

The threat of climate change has inspired people all over the world to study our environment, and it has yielded some interesting information. In an attempt to understand what the future could look like these five statistics have arisen, and they may be more surprising than you anticipated.

1. Total deaths from climate events in 2014: 8,056

Total economic damage from climate events in 2014: 90,866,687,000 (90.86 billion USD)

The International Disaster Database housed at Université catholique de Louvain in Belgium is a database that logs data on disasters around the world by category of disaster over time since 1999, and allows us to view the total damage incurred in USD by each of these disasters. Below is the 2014 data for several disaster types, which shows a substantial number of deaths due to climate events in just one year. Additionally we can see that an astonishing amount of money is spent on these disasters each year, just over 90.86 Billion. This combination of over 8,000 deaths and 90.86 billion USD all due to climate related events is certainly a statistic that should get our attention. 

Event Type


Damage in ‘000 USD




Extreme Cold



Extreme Heat












Volcanic Eruption









2. A study from the World Heath Organization predicts 250,000 additional deaths per year from 2030-2050 (38,000 due to heat exposure in elderly, 48,000 due to diarrhea, 60,000 due to malaria, 95,000 due to childhood malnutrition).

The World Health Organization (WHO) published these statistics in August 2014, stating that, beginning in 2030, we can expect an additional 250,000 deaths due to climate change each year. That is the equivalent to the population of Madison, Wisconsin. A massive population depletion is alarming, and the number will only grow larger as conditions of our climate continue to decrease.

3.     Frequency and severity of storms rising: Between 1990 and 2014, the global total and insured losses from severe convective storms grew at average annual rates of 7.7% and 9.0%, respectively.

These percentages come from the Swiss Re’s Sigma report published in early 2015. As the climate continues to change, the severity of storms continues to rise, and become stronger due to current trend of human action. In addition, such storms will be more frequent. As global temperature rises there is more energy available for storms to form, and as a result the storms we experience now will become much more extreme in years to come. This trend in storms has already resulted in a growing economic loss of almost 10% in 15 years, and with the predictions of storms in the future this number will only rise.

4.     Rising temperatures and variable precipitation are likely to decrease the production of staple foods in many of the poorest regions  by up to 50% by 2020 in some African countries. This will increase the prevalence of malnutrition and undernutrition, which currently cause 3.1 million deaths every year.

This statistics originates from the World Health Organization. The changing Global climate will also bring with it concerning inconsistencies in the weather patterns, which is of serious concern for agricultural habits. In areas with already sparse rain habits, such as Northern Africa, this could mean a massive drop off in crop production. Changing weather patterns could also impact malnutrition, which is already a major issue. This kind of irregularity in the weather pattern has the potential to heighten an already large issue.

5. If unmitigated, climate change could cost the world economy around 20% of global GDP by the end of this century.

This data comes from the Swiss Re in a report discussing the role of insurers in climate change. If left alone climate change could cost the world 1 out of every 5 dollars earned. This kind of economic cost would result in massive losses to quality of life around the world. If there were only one statistic that should shock you, this is it. Climate change is a very real issue for our future, and could be a massive cost the world will incur if this epidemic goes unmitigated.

It is this kind of information that motivated ND-GAIN to work for adaptation and mitigation of climate change. The statistics are alarming at time, but with a collaborative effort across parties, governments, and continents these ominous predictions can be avoided. ND-GAIN and other companies fighting for this goal are the foundation of making this goal reality.