Tech Helps Insurers Assess Global DisastersDespite taking up to 100,000 lives a year and causing economic losses sometimes in excess of $100 billion annually, natural disasters have a relatively small impact on society when compared with war, civil strife and famine.

Unfortunately, this is a situation that is unlikely to persist without end. Our civilization has developed against a background of geological and climatic calm that has permitted us to make sure and steady progress toward todays global technology-based society. The 10,000 years or so during which nature has left us in peace should not, however, be viewed as the norm.

Broader examination of the history of our planet will show that this period is better considered as a window of tranquility that will, at some point in the future, be closed. The 4.6 billion-year history of the Earth has been characterized by countless numbers of global catastrophes, from asteroid and comet impacts to volcanic super-eruptions, giant sea waves and abrupt climate flips, all of whichif they occurred todaywould have major impacts on global society.

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