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More on “Wanna Bet”

Posted By Don Boudreaux On June 2, 2011 @ 6:36 am In Cleaned by Capitalism,Complexity & Emergence,Environment,History | Comments Disabled

Over at Carpe Diem, Mark Perry runs the data, a bit more formally than I did, on Americans’ risks of being killed, between 1940 and 2009, by tornados, floods, and hurricanes [1].  Here’s Mark’s concluding paragraph:

Excluding the year 2005 for Katrina, the trend lines in the two graphs above are statistically significant at the 1% level. Adjusted for the U.S. population, the average American was more than 2.5 times more likely to get killed in a flood, hurricane or tornado between 1940 and 1979 than in the period between 1980-2009. The bottom chart shows that 2009 was the safest year ever since 1940, with fewer than 0.25 deaths per 1 million population.

As for my bet, I have two people so far who have offered to accept it.  One is Roger Pielke, Jr [2]., who was the first person to offer to accept my bet.  I’m in e-mail contact with Roger and we’re working out the details, such as the amount of money Roger is betting.  If that sum turns out to be less than $10,000, then I’ll let the other person in on the bet.

And at the risk of being too repetitive, I say again that my bet is not about the reality of climate change and it’s not about climate-change’s cause.  My bet is that, even if the frequency of severe weather events – specifically, tornados and floods and hurricanes – increases over the next 20 years in the U.S., the number of Americans killed by these weather events will be fewer in the 2011-2030 period than was the number killed by these events in the 1991-2010 period.  The official data set for the calculation and classification of these deaths will be one assembled by the National Weather Services under the rules and method that it used to classify such deaths for the 1940-2009 period.  (Roger Pielke links to this data set in his blog post mentioned above.)

My prediction is that, as long as ours remains a reasonably free-market economy – and, for all of its imperfections, I’m predicting that the U.S. economy will continue to be ‘reasonably free market,’ and one that, despite the absurd protectionist efforts of the likes of Sens. Sherrod Brown, Lindsey Graham, and Chuck Schumer, an economy increasingly and (hence) beneficially integrated in to the global economy – our increasing prosperity and the global-economy’s innovation will make Americans increasingly safe from the worst effects of tornados, floods, and hurricanes.

By the way, not only will Americans become more protected from these weather events; peoples in other market-oriented societies will, too.

UPDATE: Thanks to kyle8, here’s Pat Michaels writing at Forbes [3].

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[1] Over at Carpe Diem, Mark Perry runs the data, a bit more formally than I did, on Americans’ risks of being killed, between 1940 and 2009, by tornados, floods, and hurricanes: http://mjperry.blogspot.com/2011/06/don-boudreaux-channels-julian-simon-in.html

[2] One is Roger Pielke, Jr: http://rogerpielkejr.blogspot.com/2011/05/donald-boudreaux-ill-take-that-bet.html

[3] here’s Pat Michaels writing at Forbes: http://blogs.forbes.com/patrickmichaels/2011/05/26/the-great-tornadoes-of-2011-put-in-perspective/

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