As you read this, there's a "monster storm" that is pummelling on the East Coast of the US.
Dubbed Florence, the gigantic storm, has stirred up the Atlantic Ocean like no other in a long long time and is wreaking havoc in North Carolina. To get an idea of the size, the wingspan of the storm is around 660 km.
In other words, the storm is as big as the distance between Mumbai and Hyderabad.
Besides the human cost, such natural cataclysms can be devastating for the economy.
Hurricane Katrina back in 2005 raked up losses of $161 billion, while Harvey last year, supposedly caused damages worth $125 billion, and Maria and Irma chipping in with another $140 billion.
The economic impact of these storms can be staggering even for the largest economy in the world.
Meanwhile, closer to home, India is not immune to such natural disasters and the losses they bring.
The financial damage by floods in Kerala recently has been pegged at around $3 billion or around Rs 21,000 crores in terms of the damages in infrastructure - loss of roads, homes, agriculture, etc.
The floods in Jammu and Kashmir back in 2014 caused a damage of around Rs 5,700 crores to the state with heavy damages to agriculture, infrastructure, and the tourism industry.
But then, the cost of natural disasters cannot be solely estimated in terms of damage to physical infrastructure. It also has to account for the loss of business or livelihood.
For instance, the floods in Kerala severely impacted the tyre companies such as JK Tyres, Apollo Tyres, CEAT, MRF which had production hubs in the state. Not only this, Kerala is home to numerous rubber plantations as it accounts for about 85 percent of India’s rubber production.
The Chennai floods in 2015, had severely impacted the manufacturing facilities located in the vicinity of the city, especially the auto-ancillary industry.
Chennai alone accounts for 25 percent of India's automotive production - of cars, bikes, and parts. With the auto industry accounting for more than 40 percent of the country's manufacturing sector, damage to the sector has a direct impact on the nation's economy.
In fact, according to estimates, every non-productive day in the region's automobile plants leads to a loss of around Rs 180 crore to the industry.
In 2013, when the flash floods had devastated the northern state of Uttarakhand, the economy of the state was crippled.
Tourism is a major contributor to the state's economy, accounting for as much as 30 percent of the state’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), one of the highest in India.
As the floods rushed down the hills, the loss to the tourism sector in the state was estimated to be around Rs 12,000 crores. It took a couple of years for the state to be able to bring things back in shape.
Besides the business impact, natural disasters like floods also have a direct financial bearing on the insurance sector.
Claims from the Chennai floods were the highest for the general insurance industry at Rs 5,000 crores, followed by Jammu & Kashmir and Uttarakhand floods at about Rs 2,000 crores each. The estimates for the latest floods in Kerala are pegged at Rs 500 crores.
According to a Swiss Re report, on average, about 30 percent of catastrophe losses have been covered by insurance over the last 10 years.
Our country incurs losses of around $9-10 billion annually due to extreme weather events, as per the Economic Survey 2016-17.
Climate change is an undeniable reality, a future that seems to be stuffed with natural disasters wrought by changing weather populations.
There was a World Bank study which claimed that the rising temperatures and changing monsoon rainfall patterns from climate change can cost India 2.8 percent of its GDP, and depress the living standards of nearly half of the country’s population by 2050.
Given the scope for physical and financial ramifications, it is not just the governments alone that need to work and plan for climate change. The corporate sector is also required to be involved as well.
Not only do the companies need to safeguard against the risks of physical damage, but also need to protect themselves from the implications of disruption to their supply chain or markets.
Internationally a lot of companies have started taking action in their own ways, joining different alliances, be it against climate change or saving the Amazon rainforest.
Much of the action by the corporates is dictated by their business needs, which is good. For instance, Starbucks is partnering with Conservation International to "promote environmental leadership" among its coffee growers in countries including Costa Rica and Rwanda. Or for that matter, Levi Strauss is now part of a Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), which seeks to improve the way the cotton is grown globally. Swiss Re, a global provider of reinsurance and insurance, works innovatively with "cash-poor farmers" in Ethiopia.
A couple of years ago, General Mills, the maker of cereals and other products had thumped its efforts towards climate change mitigation. The company spoke about the economic fallout from a shifting climate on its business.
“Changes in climate not only affect global food security but also impact General Mills’ raw material supply which, in turn, affects our ability to deliver quality, finished product to our consumers and ultimately, value to our shareholders,” a release from the company said.
As a result, General Mills is working with its suppliers to address the levels of emissions coming from factories and its supply chain.
Back in India, there have been some efforts made by the corporates but they have been ad hoc or insufficient. There are just a handful of companies that do talk about climate change, largely driven by the passion of their CEOs.
For instance, Mahindra & Mahindra is pretty active on a variety of fronts largely due to Anand Mahindra's keen interest in the area. Yes Bank, too, has taken various initiatives to spread awareness and promote green investments.
When the Paris Accord was inked in 2016, there was much euphoria and excitement among the Indian corporate world, on the objective of building a greener country.
Over the years, the excitement seems to have toned down.
A lot many companies had supported the idea of a carbon tax (on GHG emissions) a few years back, but no one talks about it anymore.
Even the GREENEX Index, which measures the performance of the companies in terms of carbon emissions, launched by the Bombay Stock Exchange has been a non-starter. The Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) has not really caught up on India, with just a little more than 100 companies talking about their carbon footprint.
Caught between the tangles of CSR and GST, climate change comes down pretty low on the priority of Indian corporates.
But like the events in Kerala, Chennai or even North Carolina proves to us, that when mother nature removes her kids' glove, there is no fury that is greater.
Corporates need to not only start planning about such events like heat waves, missing monsoons, droughts, floods, etc. but also start working on it. When the corporate sector does get involved, the issue gets broad-based and the solution can be found.
The best instance of how the corporate sector can play a proactive role to help mitigate a global issue is that of the Ozone Hole.
Working with various governments, companies actively curbed the use of CFCs that resulted in the resolution of the problem.
We need a similar partnership on climate change, where the corporate sector needs to proactively work along with the government to ensure that the future is not messed up with.
So long as the responsibility is borne by politicians and administrators, the apocalypse is imminent. And how bad could things be? Well, check the latest updates on Hurricane Florence and you will know...
Shashwat DC is Features Editor at CNBC-TV18. He is closet-activist for sustainability and CSR, when not pondering over the future of humanity or contemplating the launch of the new Android phone.