Destruction resulting from a catastrophic event can be defined and measured. The gross domestic output can measure economic losses, while the number of deaths can determine human losses. The balance of these two can be vastly different in low vs. high human development countries. For example, the average number of deaths per disaster in low human development countries with a per capita GDP of less than US$2,000 can be much higher, say 1000, while the economic losses could be less than US$100 million. On the other hand, the average number of deaths per disaster in high human development countries with a per capita GDP higher than US$14,000 can be lower, say less than ten, while the economic losses could be over US$600 million. Measuring an extreme event by financial losses alone is not enough to label it a disaster or not. Quantifying losses can be done using sector-specific vulnerability curves based on modeled data, including but not limited to figures of population, building data, structural classes, structural characteristics, and insurance claims. Research from industry sources and historical events can validate these vulnerability curves.