For years, scientists have predicted that climate change, fueled by heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions, would lead to more extreme weather. More floods in our amber waves of grain, more wildfires in the shadow of our purple mountains. Stronger storms from sea to shining sea.
2011 lived up to those predictions, with well over $46 billion in damages tallied, according to the final tally by the National Climactic Data Center. The previous record, set in 2008, was barely half as disastrous, with nine billion-dollar disasters.
While it's hard, if not impossible, to pin any weather event or group of weather events on global warming, scientists warn that we've loaded the dice: These extreme weather events are more likely than before. And the dice aren't loaded in our favor, as the high cost of these weather events demonstrates.