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RMS links weather losses, climate change


LONDON—Financial losses from weather-related catastrophes have increased by an average of 2% per year since the 1970s, with climate change a contributing factor, according to the chief researcher of catastrophe modeler Risk Management Solutions Inc.

The rate of loss increase holds true even when infla- tion, changes in wealth and population growth are taken into account, said Robert Muir-Wood, chief research officer of Newark, Calif.-based RMS.

Mr. Muir-Wood offered his assessment of climate change's impact in a statement issued shortly before the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued its report in Brussels last Friday.

Among the IPCC report's projections is that climate change will result in increased flooding in coastal areas as sea levels rise.

In addition, the report predicts that there will be "an extended period of high fire risk" in parts of North America that are already prone to forest fire, with larger areas of forest being burned.

"It is clear that weather-related hazards are already increasing in some regions of the world due to climate change, and as a result, financial losses from extreme weather catastrophes, such as floods, droughts, heat waves and storms, are also increasing," said Mr. Muir-Wood. "The increases in extreme weather have placed our current systems for risk management, such as insurance, under stress," he said.

Meanwhile, earlier last week, Lloyd's of London urged insurers to begin modeling for higher worldwide losses from climate change.

In its latest climate change report, Rapid Climate Change, Lloyd's claims that waiting on "definitive scientific pronouncements" on the impact of climate change "seems like an increasingly risky strategy."

The report, available at, contains articles on rapid sea level rise, destabilization of ice sheets, increased flood frequency and changes in drought intensity and frequency.

Michael Bradford contributed to this article.