The fierce tornadoes that killed hundreds of Americans during the past month have prompted some environmentalists, including Bill McKibben in a recent Washington Post op-ed, to declare that these disasters are related to man-made climate change — and that things are only going to get worse.
Writing in the Wall Street Journal, economist Don Boudreaux instead points to data showing that, single-year variances notwithstanding, in fact the “number of weather-related fatalities, especially since 1980, has dropped dramatically”:
For the 30-year span of 1980-2009, the average annual number of Americans killed by tornadoes, floods and hurricanes was 194 — fully one-third fewer deaths each year than during the 1940-1979 period. The average annual number of deaths for the years 1980-2009 falls even further, to 160 from 194, if we exclude the deaths attributed to Hurricane Katrina, most of which were caused by a levee that breached on the day after the storm struck land.
This decline in