Saturday, September 29, 2007

Turning Up the Heat

At one point yesterday, there were two headline links next to each other on the website. One read something like, "Bush Calls for Action on Global Warming." The other read, "World Turns Up the Heat on Iran."

Does anyone else think there might have been a little editorial ya-ha here, intentional or not?

Back on September 17th, in a post titled "Hot Enough for Ya?", I talked about my views on climate change. The Readers' Digest version of that post was that no matter whether you think climate change is caused by human activity, normal climactic fluctuations, or a combination of both, it's real, it's here, and we have to deal with it. There are still those who steadfastly deny there's a problem, but I recently found absolute proof that climate change is a real threat: the insurance industry has taken notice.

In an article in the Washington Post on September 27th, reporters John Morrison and Alex Sink wrote about how insurance companies are beginning to adjust their policies and strategies for dealing with the insurability problems caused by changes in the world's climate. They note that some insurance firms are refusing to insure property in areas prone to catastrophes, while others are raising their premiums by large amounts to cover expected huge losses in such areas. In short, the insurance companies are doing what they're good at doing: assessing risks and allocating assets. Insurability is likely to be the driving factor in many future business decisions which rely on the climate: what land to develop, what construction standards to impose, and what types of business and residential development to allow. We have to start asking ourselves the hard questions: living on the coast may be nice, but is it worth the risk of rising sea levels, hurricanes and tsunamis? Homes in the hills and forests may offer peace and tranquility, but is it worth the risk of the wildfires that have become annual events? As rainfall patterns and growing seasons change, do we need to reconsider where and how we plant our farms?

Global warming is the crazy aunt in the world's attic. It can only be ignored for so long before action needs to be taken. And if science alone won't convince leaders to act, then perhaps the economics of insurability will.

For more on global warming and climate change, I recommend National Public Radio's excellent series titled Climate Connections which offers information without hysteria. Read, study, and make up your own mind.

And, depending on where you live, start budgeting a lot more for insurance.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.



Jean-Luc Picard said...

Everyone is getting hot under the collar about climate change.

Amanda said...

This is an interesting angle to discuss global warming.