The Cost of Inaction is Real.


Climate change is making extreme weather more frequent and intense. The failure to act on the climate crisis cost Americans at least $92.9 billion in 2023 or $2,945.84/second – that’s almost the cost of seven months of health insurance for the average American. This total reflects the 28 separate billion-dollar weather and climate disasters identified by NOAA the U.S. experienced in 2023, the most ever recorded in a calendar year and surpassing the previous record set in 2020. These disasters were also exceedingly deadly, causing at least 492 deaths, the 8th most disaster-related fatalities for the contiguous U.S. in the last four decades. 

This ticker shows the cost-per-second of extreme weather events in the last year that caused more than $1 billion in damage based on data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). From superstorms to heat waves to raging wildfires, the impact of extreme weather is already being felt in every corner of the country. Every day that goes by without climate action is estimated to cost at least $254 million, based on recent trends, and the average yearly cost of inaction for the last five years has averaged $120.6 billion or $3,824/second.

Because of climate change, extreme weather disasters are expected to become more frequent and intense. In addition to having the most billion dollar disasters, 2023 was named the hottest year on record, producing extreme heat, wildfires, and rising sea levels at rates never before seen. These trends drive home the urgent need for bold action on climate; it means President Biden has no time to waste in meeting his commitments on climate. 

Over 42 million young people between the ages of 15 and 24 live in America, and will suffer the consequences of the climate crisis and the impacts of climate pollution their entire lives if we don’t act on climate now.

This is why the Biden administration must use all of its existing authority to set the strongest possible standards to save lives, slash climate pollution, advance environmental justice, protect our environment, and protect our health. While the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) delivered the most significant climate investments in history, it didn’t go far enough in addressing environmental justice. This is why President Biden must implement the strongest possible solutions for pollution to protect our health and environment, and begin lowering the cost of climate inaction.

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Projected cost for 2023: $92,900,000,000 or $2,945.84/second

$2,945.84 is more than the average cost of 7 months of car payments

  • Average monthly car payments cost $717 for new cars and $563 for used cars. [CBS, 1/6/23]

$2,945.84 is more than the average cost of 2 months of rent

  • Average listed rent in the U.S. was $1,957 per month. [CNBC, 8/2/22]

$2,945.84 is roughly equivalent to 7 months of health insurances costs for the average American

  • The average American spent $420 on health insurance per month. [Forbes, 1/3/24]

$2,945.84 is more than the average cost of 4 months of childcare

  • Infant Childcare costs over $700 per month on childcare.[BOA Institute, 10/27/23]


Billion Dollar Events

Using NOAA data on billion-dollar disasters we can estimate the dollars spent on responding to extreme events and the number of lives lost. 

The average cost over the past five years is estimated to be $120.6 billion lost per year. Although the amounts vary from year to year, for the purposes of the ticker, we are assuming that the ongoing cost of these events is likely to hover close to the 2023 data. To represent the constant, ongoing threat of climate or weather disasters, the ticker counts up at a rate of $2,945.84 per second ($92.9 billion divided by 31,536,000, which is the number of seconds in a year). 

This visual representation DOES NOT include all available cost data. For example, health-related costs are not included. The ticker is a representation of the baseline cost of inaction; it is not intended to be a real-time, precise calculation.

Billion $ Weather Event Costs
Weather Event Deaths



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Cost of Inaction Campaign Partners

Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments (ANHE)

Change the Chamber*Lobby for Climate

Dream Corps Green For All



Environment America

Michigan Clinicians for Climate Action

National Wildlife Federation (NWF)

Poder Latinx

Sierra Club

Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE)

United Women in Faith