Black Swan: “levels only experienced on average once every 500 to

Just in the last 15 years, since microwave technology aboard satellites
produced images of water vapor in the atmosphere, scientists have come
to realize that most major winter rainstorms over California, and
virtually all flooding episodes, are the result of the unloading of
airborne streams of tropical moisture that have come to be called
“Atmospheric Rivers.” (Hence the name, ARk – Atmospheric Rivers 1,000.)
The scenario envisions nearly a month of uninterrupted rainfall over
northern and southern California.

“The hypothetical storm depicted here would strike the U.S. West Coast
and be similar to the intense California winter storms of 1861 and 1862
that left the central valley of California impassible,” the authors
said. “The storm is estimated to produce precipitation that in many
places exceeds levels only experienced on average once every 500 to
1,000 years.”

In addition to property and “business interruption” losses of anywhere
from $725 billion to $1 trillion, the team estimated that emergency
managers would be faced with the task of evacuating 1.5 million people
during the storm and its aftermath. “The numbers that have been
presented here are shocking, no doubt about it,” observed co-author
Laurie Johnson, a private planning specialist who worked on Katrina
Hurricane recovery. Such a storm could pose “a fiscal crisis that will
cascade through every level of government.”

All that is says is that 1,000 years storms exist, and can occur. The only thing new here is they understand more about the mechanisms of these 1,000 years storms when they do happen, not that one is imminent.

I’ve got some more news for you: one day, the sun will Red Giant and engulf the entire Earth. The damages will exceed a trillion dollars.  The probability of this is 1.0 …. in astronomical time-scales.

The logic or risk analysis that equates a once in five billion years event that has an impact of trillions of dollars with monthly events that cost hundreds of dollars is lunacy.
There are many inconvenient events that do occur on a monthly basis [again with probability 1.0] that cost hundred, even thousands of dollars, and we ‘just live with them’.  If you doubt that statement look at the incidents of automobile deaths and injuries and of deaths and disabilities due to pollution.  I’m sure any insurance company or government statistics office will be happy to supply you with the details.

One thing is very clear: we are not good at recognizing where the real threats and risks are.

About the author

Security Evangelist