Will the Future Climate Require “Steel-Built” Umbrellas?

By: Yoram Yahav

In one of my lectures abroad, I claimed that no individual can predict the future with definite certainty, but as a society, we can examine the patterns of the present and try to predict their positive or negative outcomes. One such issue is the climate. Based on the German reinsurance “Munich Re”, the number of weather-related catastrophes over the last thirty years has tripled. In 2010 alone, the company has identified nine hundred and fifty natural catastrophes worldwide which have created a major economic loss and devastation amounting to US 130 Billion dollars. Some of these unexpected disasters include volcanic eruptions, snow storms, earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes and tornadoes.


I am neither a scientist nor a researcher on climatic trends. But, I can quote and learn from the experts. There are several panels, discussions and debates on whether the world is experiencing a “collapse” of its existing systems due to global warming, air pollution, excessive energy use and more. I honestly don’t know what the reasons are for this situation, but I am ready and able to warn the industries and countries experiencing the aforementioned disasters, that they should assume the situation will only worsen.

The reason for this assumption is based on the methodology emphasized in the last couple of years. When one is willing to analyze a situation as though it had already happened (“Backcasting Strategy”), the ability to prepare for it psychologically and practically, is much more defined and planned. For example, if the major airlines would assume that the Grímsvötn volcanic eruption in Iceland will repeat itself to a larger scale of both geographical distribution as well as magnitude, the strategic preparation for such an event would be more daring and realistic. One such strategy could involve preparation of intense spider-web alternatives based on partnership with other transportation networks across Europe for example.

The following table lists the natural catastrophes that took place in the world during 2010 (source: Munich Re)

Month Event Country Description
January Winter damage Europe Heavy snowfall leading to a widespread infrastructure damage and loss
January Winter Damage China Heavy snowfall damaging homes, crops and livestock
March Earthquake Turkey A 6.1 magnitude earthquake destroying hundreds of buildings
April Earthquake China A 6.9 magnitude earthquake causing landslides and damaging homes
April Volcano Iceland Eruption of Volcano Eyjafjallajokull, emitting a cloud of gas and ash
June Cyclone India, Oman, Pakistan
Cyclone Phet and subsequent storm surge damaging homes, vehicles and more
June Severe storms Myanmar Floods and landslides damaging one million buildings, collapsing bridges and more
June Floods France Floods damaging thousands of homes and automobiles
August Volcano Indonesia Mount Sinabung, in North Sumatra, erupting sending sand and ash up to 1.6 km high
September Earthquake New Zealand 7.0 earthquake destroying infrastructure and more than 100,000 homes
October Hurricane China, Philippines Super Typhoon Megi destroying 31,000 homes and damaging another 118,000
October Earthquake Indonesia 7.7 magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami destroying thousands of homes, roads
October Volcano Indonesia Mount Merapi emitting gas and ash, destroying 2,300 homes, disrupting flights
December Floods Australia Major floods destroying infrastructure and agriculture and interrupting coal production

If I try to put myself in the shoes of a corporation, a military force, a shipping company or an airline involved in one of the countries listed above, I would prepare myself in case such a catastrophe should repeat itself. I would ask myself; What are the alternative acts to what I am currently doing? How can I prepare my employees and my clients for a day with such a disaster? Most of us don’t like to think in this negative way, but the not so far history unfortunately proves that if we don’t prepare ahead, our lives will be taken for granted. Can we afford it?