A leading insurance company recorded 950 natural catastrophes worldwide in 2010, exceeding the last decade’s average of 785 events per year. The five worst disasters were earthquakes in Chile, China, and Haiti; floods that inundated Pakistan; and a heat wave in Russia, where tens of thousands died from the effects of heat and air pollution.
Over northern Europe, ash from an Icelandic volcano caused little direct damage but nearly paralyzed air traffic. In Australia two severe hailstorms caused in excess of $2 billion (U.S.) of damage. “Total economic losses, including losses not covered by insurance,” says The Telegraph of London, “rose to $130 billion from last year’s $50 billion.”