Economics/Class Relations

Insider Today: A $2.6 trillion disaster

September 22, 2023 • 5 min read
with Dan DeFrancesco
Happy Friday! A bride who lost her sight at 17 blindfolded her guests and groom as she walked down the aisle so they could “all live in this beautiful moment together.” Keep some tissues close by when you’re reading this one.

In today’s big story, we’re looking at the shocking cost that comes from extreme weather, and how we’re all left footing the bill.

What’s on deck:
But first, the bill is due.


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The big story
Extreme weather = extreme costs

The climate crisis can be a polarizing topic, but here’s a number to chew on: $2,615,000,000,000.


That’s the total bill for the 371 weather and climate disasters topping $1 billion in damage in the US since 1980.


It’s a number so big I had to triple-check that I had the correct amount of zeros.


The eye-popping figure is part of an incredible package on the true cost of extreme weather from Insider’s Annie Fu, Morgan McFall-Johnsen, Catherine Boudreau, Jacob Zinkula, and Marianne Guenot.


The project includes stories on a teacher’s near-death experience in Arizona heat, a storm destroying much of a Texas citrus farmer’s crop, and a flood in Iowa that devastated a nonprofit.


As staggering as $2.6 trillion is, it might be short-changing the actual cost. Plenty of bills go uncounted by official tallies, and supply-chain disruptions from weather events create an incalculable domino effect.


There’s also no cost you can put on the loss of life — and emotional stress — from these events.


And all of us are footing the bill. From taxes to insurance premiums, extreme weather impacts just about everyone one way or another.


Discussions about the climate crisis often focus on the impact on future generations. However, the data shows the ramifications of extreme weather are being felt today.

I spoke to Insider’s future of business editor, Tim Paradis, who helped oversee the project, about what stood out most to him. 


He pointed to the speed at which these disasters have racked up massive bills as extreme weather has worsened.


Since 2013, there have been 178 billion-dollar weather events totaling more than $1.2 trillion. Even after adjusting for inflation, that’s a fivefold increase in both the cost and frequency of high-priced events from the ‘80s.


A common critique regarding reports on the climate crisis is that the Earth’s weather is constantly fluctuating. And while that’s true, the above indicates rapid changes in a shockingly short time period, Tim said.


If you’re short on time, I encourage you to at least read this incredible piece on Lois Nigrin. The Nebraska teacher nearly died from heatstroke in 2019 while hiking Camelback Mountain in Phoenix with her husband.


It’s a harrowing, personal tale of how extreme temperatures can have devastating effects.

3 things in


🔔 Before the opening bell: US futures rise early Friday after stocks dropped on fears of a potential government shutdown.

Heritage Auctions
1. A $10,000 bill just sold at auction for $480,000. Wait, what? The bill, issued by the US Treasury in 1934, featured Salmon Chase, President Abraham Lincoln’s Treasury secretary. Fun fact: High-denomination bills of $500, $1,000, and $10,000 were issued in the 1800’s and early 1900’s before being removed from circulation in 1969.


2. Meet the big winners from sky-high interest rates. Baby boomers owe the Fed a big thank you. The older generation can park cash in risk-free Treasury bills with yields above 5%.


3. Robinhood’s reorg. The fintech is laying off more employees and reorganizing teams as it looks to focus on credit cards, insiders said. The changes come as Robinhood deals with a shrinking user base.


Introducing Indeed’s Better Work Awards


Recognized for having outstanding Work Wellbeing Scores over the last year – this list represents the authentic voice of the employees who know what it feels like to work there. This is better work. Did your company make it?

Learn More
3 things in
Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images
1. Turmoil in Amazon’s live radio team. Amp, the ecommerce giant’s Clubhouse competitor, experienced a sudden leadership change — this came after firing about half the team last year. And employees are expressing their frustration about the direction of the business.


2. A new Google Search update is angering website owners. The company is now allowing AI-generated results to show up in search. This has caused some human-generated websites to fall lower on search results, and some site owners are upset after experiencing massive drops in web traffic.


3. Meet the new swarm of bots. They’re scraping information from AI models, including ones from OpenAI and other tech giants. Bad actors are using these bots to bombard AI chatbots with questions and leave the bill for someone else.

3 things in
Bernard Weil/Toronto Star via Getty Images
1. Longtime CEO of Planet Fitness says he was blindsided by abrupt firing. “I wasn’t finished,” Chris Rondeau told Insider in a text message. “I had the best team best franchisees and an amazing business.”


2. Rupert Murdoch is stepping down as chair of Fox and News Corp. He’s handing the reins to his elder son Lachlan — completing the real-life “Succession” story (here’s how Lachlan rose to the top, by the way). Plus, read Murdoch’s full memo announcing his exit.


3. Hybrid workers are more stressed or burnt out than their fully remote counterparts. This may be due to the lack of structure, but many hybrid workers are content with their jobs. Meanwhile, Apple is two years into its hybrid pilot and still doesn’t know the right balance.


In other news



What’s happening today
  • Double festivities: The iHeartRadio Music Festival and Life is Beautiful festival are both kicking off in Las Vegas today. The Killers, Kendrick Lamar, and Odesza are headlining the three-day Life is Beautiful music, comedy, and food festival. Meanwhile, the iHeartRadio Music Festival lineup includes the Foo Fighters, Lil Wayne, Fall Out Boy, and Travis Scott.
  • Apple’s new iPhones are available to buy now. After debuting the iPhone 15, 15 Plus, 15 Pro, and 15 Pro Max last week, they’re now available in-store and online.
  • The Solheim Cup women’s golf tournament kicks off today in Spain. The 18th biennial edition of the Europe vs. US team competition will take place at the Finca Cortesin Golf Club in Andalucia. Team US is captained by Stacy Lewis, while Team Europe is captained by Suzann Pettersen.


10’000 Hours/Getty Images
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The Insider Today team

Dan DeFrancesco, senior editor and anchor, in New York City. Diamond Naga Siu, senior reporter, in San Diego. Hallam Bullock, editor, in London. Lisa Ryan, executive editor, in New York.


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