Do We Learn From Experience?

Flooding in Norristown, PA from remnants of Hurricane Ida, Sep 2021 (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

20 October 2021

From 100+ degree weather in the Pacific Northwest, to Hurricane Ida flooding in the Northeast and raging wildfires in the West, formerly safe places have become new danger zones. We are experiencing climate change but are we learning from it?

In Pennsylvania the increasing frequency and height of floods has come as a surprise. Climate change has boosted the risk from “one flood in 100 years” to 10 years or less. Despite this new calculation we still build and buy in major flood zones. Curious about your home’s flood risk? See the updated risk at

Flooding in Conshohocken, PA from remnants of Hurricane Ida, Sep 2021 (photo from Wikimedia Commons) Schuylkill River is behind the blue building

Wildfires in the West are worsening as heat and drought increase. California’s 2020 North Complex Fire was one of the worst.

Fire on the north flank of the North Complex Fire, Sep 2020 (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Spawned by lightning in August 2020, the North Complex Fire flared in September and forced towns to evacuate without warning. The fire killed 16, destroyed more than 2,300 structures, and plunged San Francisco into daytime darkness 150 miles away.

Darkness at noon in San Francisco due to smoke from the North Complex Fire 150 miles away, 9 Sep 2020 12:08pm (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Even though the climate change risks are known we keep living in danger zones. Sometimes we can’t comprehend that it’s dangerous. Sometimes we cannot afford to leave. But that calculation is changing.

Yale Climate Connections explains how the cost of living in danger zones is about to rise significantly. Insurers have calculated the real cost and are raising rates or refusing insurance.

We may not learn from experience, but insurance companies do.

(photos from Wikimedia Commons of Hurricane Ida in Pennsylvania 2021 and North Complex Fire 2020; click on the captions to see the originals)

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