A report released earlier this month by the U.S. National Institute of Building Sciences has refined the old saw that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”, finding that a dollar invested in resilience preparation returns $6 in savings during natural disasters.
“Every $1 the federal government spends on so-called mitigation projects, such as elevating homes at risk of flooding, improving stormwater management systems, or strengthening buildings against earthquakes,” Bloomberg reports, citing the study, “reduces future costs [to the public] by an average of $6.”
The estimate boosts the 4:1 return on investments in resilience that the same institute estimated in 2005. The increase “reflects the growing effects of climate change as well as better data and measurement, according to the group.”
The Institute’s researchers examined what became of US$27 billion in spending over 23 years by U.S. emergency response, housing, and economic development agencies. The agencies’ various grants “led to an estimated $158 billion in benefits, including $68 billion in avoided deaths and injuries, $58 billion in avoided property damage, and $13 billion in avoided costs associated with additional living expenses and direct interruptions to businesses,” they found.
The report’s authors hope their findings will find an audience in an administration ideologically ill-disposed to concerns over the costs of climate change.
“The Trump administration’s first budget request,” Bloomberg recalls, “would have cut by half pre-disaster mitigation grants to cities and states. It would have ended the vehicle Congress uses to deliver disaster recovery money. And it would have eliminated a division of the Department of Commerce that runs disaster programs.”
But “invest properly in mitigation, you’re going to get your money back—regardless of what your beliefs in climate change are,” insisted Bryan Koon, Chair of the Institute’s Multihazard Mitigation Council, which prepared the report.