1: "PAY IT FORWARD" One proposal would allow students to attend public two- and four-year colleges at no upfront cost—so long as they committed upfront to pay their alma mater or the state a fixed portion of their post-graduation salaries.
The tornadoes that struck the Midwest this week, killing dozens and destroying hundreds of homes and schools in the Oklahoma City-suburb of Moore, likely caused more than $1 billion in damages. And it's not just tornadoes that wreak this kind of havoc. From wildfires to hurricanes, the country has suffered dozens of natural disasters that have left billions of dollars of damage in their wake. Some people also argue they're fueled by climate change. And that assertion deserves serious consideration. When it comes to something like wildfires, the connection is pretty clear. But that's not the case with all natural disasters. Scientists, for example, have found few links between tornadoes and climate change. According to a post on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Earth System Research Laboratory, "[W]e have not been able to link any of the major causes of the tornado outbreak to global warming." But global warming, caused in part by the emission of greenhouse gasses from things like cars and factories, has led to more unpredictable weather, meaning people have less time to prepare for disasters. That can, and often does, cost lives and money. The Brookings Institution noted in a 2012 review of natural disasters that, "Given the fact that climate change is making weather more unpredictable and increasing the likelihood of extreme events, efforts are urgently needed to prevent natural hazards such as hurricanes and tropical storms from becoming major disasters." The federal government built up disaster response measures following Katrina's devastation, but that doesn't prevent such events from striking. Reducing greenhouse gases would likely help, but sometimes these things are simply unavoidable. Here's a look at seven of the most recent well-known U.S. natural disasters that cost at least a billion dollars.