by Aidan Britton

2023’s Record-Breaking Climate Disasters in the U.S.


In an era dominated by headlines about the latest trends and controversies, the relentless barrage of climate-related news often feels like a persistent drumbeat in the background.

The startling revelation of 28 billion dollars worth of disasters wreaking havoc across the United States in 2023 demands our undivided attention. It’s not just another news story; it’s a sharp wake-up call. As we consume news about climate change amidst the noise of daily life, the extraordinary scale of these events, the $92.9 billion in damages worldwide, and the tragic loss of lives underscore the urgent need for collective action in the face of an escalating climate crisis.

In 2023 the United States had to witness many devastating billion-dollar disasters that left a scarring mark on the nation. Climate change has emerged as the underlying force behind the relentless disasters. 

What is Happening?

The surge in atmospheric river-fueled storms, exemplified in California’s floods is attributed to the warming atmosphere, which enables these rivers to carry more moisture, intensifying rainfall and raising the risk of flooding.

The devastating wildfires in Maui, amplified by record-breaking temperatures, reflect the heightened fire danger linked to prolonged periods of heat and dry conditions—a hallmark of climate change.

Meanwhile, the increased frequency and intensity of tornado outbreaks in central and southern regions find their roots in the changing climate patterns, with warmer air providing a conducive environment for these violent storms to form.

The Gulf Coast’s increased hurricane activity directly results from rising sea surface temperatures, providing more energy for hurricanes to strengthen and unleashing more destructive storm surges.

“The U.S. was hit with more billion-dollar disasters in 2023 than any other year on record, highlighting the increasing risks from our changing climate”

– NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information Director Deke Arndt

The End is Near?

This accelerated frequency of billion-dollar disasters in 2023, with an average interval of less than two weeks between events, underscores the growing impact of human-caused climate change. A striking difference from the 82-day average interval recorded in the 1980s, this alarming trend signifies a new normal of heightened vulnerability to extreme weather events. 

The analysis by “Climate Central” paints a vivid picture of a world where the consequences of climate change are not only more frequent but also more economically and socially burdensome. 

Rachel Cleetus, the policy director and lead economist of the Union of Concerned Scientists, emphasizes the grim outlook, warning that the trajectory of rising global heat-trapping emissions is bound to usher in more unprecedented disasters, urging a swift and comprehensive response to address the root causes of climate change and bolster resilience against its impacts.

“With global heat-trapping emissions continuing to rise, the future will unfortunately bring more unprecedented disasters. Together with risky development patterns, this will put more people, property and infrastructure in harm’s way”

-Rachel Cleetus

Moving Forward Together

As the United States grapples with the consequences of a changing climate, it highlights the interconnectedness of nations in facing this global challenge. The experiences of extreme weather events and their far-reaching consequences transcend borders, emphasizing the need for collaborative efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, promote sustainable development practices, and enhance resilience to mitigate the impacts of climate change.

In essence, the information from the U.S. serves as a call to action for the international community to strengthen commitments under global climate agreements, invest in clean energy technologies, and foster international cooperation in the face of this shared and urgent threat. Climate change knows no boundaries, and the world must collectively address its root causes and work together to build a sustainable and resilient future for all.