Shutterstock

Japan faces more than its fair share of risk.

Consider these two major worldwide trends:

  • The global population is becoming increasingly concentrated in urban centers.
  • Climate change is increasing the intensity of natural disasters, and thus probably making the damage they inflict worse.

When you mix the two together, the unfortunate result is that the $60 to $100 billion lost every year to hurricanes, earthquakes and floods is probably going to get larger. Bigger storms plus more people in big cities—which are unusually near the water—add up to a greater potential for damage.

Recent natural disasters in major cities have individually met or even dwarfed the average figures above. Hurricane Sandy cost New York $67 billion in 2012, and the Tohoku earthquake and resulting tsunami in Japan in 2011 caused an estimated $210 to $300 billion in damage, in addition to thousands and thousands of lives lost. (It’s worth noting that there is no evidence climate change will cause stronger earthquakes.)
 
So, which cities face the biggest risk today? The graphic above answers that question, both in terms of the number of people at risk and the impact on the country’s economy. The results are based on a new report by the reinsurance company Swiss Re. Many of the cities in the top ten (in terms of human impact) are in Asia, which has been exposed to the widest array of natural disasters of all the continents, according to the report. And there are more at-risk cities in Japan than any other country, because Japan lies on one of the most active fault lines on earth.
 

Top image: Prometheus72 /Shutterstock.com

This post originally appeared on Quartz, an Atlantic partner site. More from Quartz:

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. photo: a man with a smartphone in front of a rental apartment building in Boston.
    Equity

    Landlords Are Using Next-Generation Eviction Tech

    As tenant protections get stronger, corporate landlords use software to manage delinquent renters. But housing advocates see a tool for quicker evictions.

  2. animated illustration: cars, bikes, scooters and drones in motion.
    Transportation

    This City Was Sick of Tech Disruptors. So It Decided to Become One.

    To rein in traffic-snarling new mobility modes, L.A. needed digital savvy. Then came a privacy uproar, a murky cast of consultants, and a legal crusade by Uber.

  3. Design

    Coronavirus Outbreak Maps Rooted in History

    Cartographers are mapping the coronavirus in more sophisticated ways than past epidemics. But visualizing outbreaks dates back to cholera and yellow fever.

  4. Equity

    Why Black Businesses and Homeownership Won’t Close the Wealth Gap

    Economic plans like Mike Bloomberg’s assume that boosting black homeownership and entrepreneurs will close racial wealth gaps. New research suggests it won’t.

  5. A cat lays flat on a bench at a park on the outskirts of Tokyo.
    Life

    Why Don't Americans Use Their Parks at Night?

    Most cities aren’t fond of letting people use parks after dark. But there are good lifestyle, environmental, and safety reasons to reconsider.

×