The Stream, January 5: Natural Disaster Insurance Payout Doubles In 2016

The Global Rundown

Insurance companies paid more than twice as much for natural disasters globally in 2016 as in the previous year, with large costs attributed to floods in China. A drone mapping project in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania aims to improve flood protection for residents of the city’s informal settlements. A new study points to a greater possibility of major shifts in Atlantic ocean currents under climate change, potentially disrupting rainfall patterns. Crimea is struggling with water scarcity as the relationship between Russia and Ukraine remains tense. The Obama administration issued an executive order that lends support to California’s proposed Delta water tunnel project.

“Hundreds of thousands will have to be relocated. Soon, we will see dust storms with salt that will move to the center of Crimea.” –Vladimir Garnachuk, a political activist and head of the nonprofit Clean Coast Crimea, anticipating the dire consequences of a dam built across the North Crimean Canal that cut off a crucial water supply from Ukraine. Tensions between Russia and Ukraine are already squeezing water supplies on the annexed peninsula. (Al Jazeera)

By The Numbers

$50 billion Cost of insurance claims for natural disasters paid globally in 2016, nearly double the amount paid the previous year. Floods in China last June and July alone accounted for approximately $20 billion in losses, though not all were insured. Reuters

70 percent Proportion of residents in Dar es Salaam, one of Tanzania’s largest cities, who live in informal settlements. A new project is using drones to map these settlements and reduce the risk they face from annual floods. Reuters

Science, Studies, And Reports

A warming planet is much more likely to cause changes to the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation than previously thought, according to a new study published in the journal Science Advances. The AMOC is an ocean current in the Atlantic that plays a large role in regulating the climate in Europe, and a disruption of the current could cause a southern shift in tropical Atlantic rain patterns. Science Daily

On The Radar

The administration of U.S. President Barack Obama issued an executive order this week offering support for a proposed tunnel project that would send more water from northern California to the southern regions of the state. Obama’s successor, Donald Trump, will take office before the federal government makes any final decisions about the project. Associated Press

In context: Read more about the proposed Delta tunnel project.