RENewsletter | May 25, 2014

 

The Free environmental newsletter from RochesterEnvironment.com

“Our Environment is changing: Keep up with the Change.”

 

[05/18/2014 – 05/25/2014]

 

Opening Salvo | NewsLinks | Daily Updates | Events | Take Action

 

 

Opening Salvo:  Insuring ourselves against Climate Change

 

One of the consequences of Climate Change that will affect everyone, including political parties denying anthropogenic warming, is its impact on property insurance. This recent slew of stories is a harbinger of the desperate search for the deepest pockets when paying for climate-related liabilities (CRL):

 

·         Climate change: Get ready or get sued (May 19, 2014,Washington Post)

·         Climate change lawsuits filed against some 200 US communities  (May 17, 2014, Christian Science Monitor)

·         U.S. insurer class action may signal wave of climate-change suits  (May 16, 2014, Reuters)

·         Who will pay for climate change? Not us, insurer says  (May 14, 2014, Marketplace)

·         Who Should Pay for Damage Caused by Climate Change? (May 23, 2014, US News and World Report)

 

There are many unknown unknowns as Climate Change changes our lives, but one thing is for sure in our litigious society: When extreme weather hits and causes lots of expensive damage, someone is going to pay. The media, which deserves a certain amount of culpability because they have not kept the public informed on the local consequences of Climate Change, will most likely be running many stories about these lawsuits as these cases flourish. That’s because few stories attract media attention more than legal blame games. 

 

With Climate Change and insurance the blame game works like this:

 

Insurance companies go after municipalities for the money to rebuild homes and other properties after a string of frequent extreme weather events because the insurance companies don’t have enough money. And (oh, by the way) it turns out that it’s cheaper to sue the municipalities rather than pay out large sums to those who paid an insufficient amount for insurance coverage.  But the municipalities don’t have the money either to pay out large sums for extensive damage due to Climate Change. They don’t have the money because the public too often votes back into office climate deniers who don’t believe in Climate Change and promise to cut taxes. These deniers see no need to prepare the public or their budgets for something they believe doesn’t exist. 

 

The insurance companies don’t have the money to pay the folks who paid for their policies because the insurance companies, which tend to use historical data to decide how to charge their clients, are insisting that Climate Change doesn’t count as a CRL because Climate Change disasters only occur in the future—and increasingly, the present, as the National Climate Assessment (and many other climate studies) prove Climate Change is happening right now. 

 

So now insurance companies have discovered a new trick, making use of the language in a municipality’s climate action plan (if it has one) to prove that municipalities must have known about CRL’s beforehand, didn’t prepare adequately, and are thus liable.  (Maybe these legal gymnastics explain why so few municipalities have climate action plans. Hummm…)

 

Lawyers are going to make out great.

 

But because we have allowed the merchants of doubt to lull the public into thinking Climate Change is a hoax, the bill is coming due, and no one is going to be in a position to pay it.  Insurance companies cannot pay, governments cannot pay, and, of course, individuals cannot pay.  People purchase insurance policies in the first place because of the overwhelming expenses involved with unforeseen and even foreseen damages. Further, these extreme weather events tend to be difficult to insure because everyone in a specified region gets nailed, so there’s no way to bring in enough funds to pay for massive damages.

 

So, what’s the way out this financial and environmental nightmare? Planning.  Some of the ‘heavyweights’ in the insurance industry already realize the potential threat to our environment and their industry because of Climate Change and are starting to plan ahead.

 

Insurance leaders pack climate punch The heavyweights of the global insurance industry, well aware of the risks posed to their finances by extreme weather events, have made a renewed commitment to use their financial clout and influence to tackle the climate impacts of a warming world | It might have the reputation of being rather a dull − some might even say boring – business, but there’s no doubting the insurance industry’s financial muscle. The Geneva Association − a leading international insurance thinktank, whose members have total assets of nearly US$ 15 trillion − has been meeting in Toronto, Canada. And the focus has been very much on climate change. The Association, issuing a climate risk statement calling for urgent action by governments and other bodies, said: “The prospect of extreme climate change and its potentially devastating economic and social consequences are of great concern to the insurance industry.” Those putting their names to the document – 66 chief executives of the world’s leading insurers − commit themselves to a set of guiding principles on what they describe as the substantial role the insurance industry can play in tackling risks related to climate change. (May 23, 2014) Climate News Network 

 

Such planning is a hopeful sign. There’s much that the insurance industry can do to fortify their assets for the payouts ahead, including investing in industries that will help us to adapt and mitigate Climate Change.

 

But however massive the collective assets of insurance companies might be, they still won’t be able to insure the world against Climate Change. The only way to do that is to make sure we don’t put climate deniers into office.  Our governments are the insurers of last resort. They’re the ones who come to help with planes and trucks and food and boats and expert personnel and pockets deep enough to handle such emergencies that a climate in extremis will bring. But governments cannot insure its people if an office-holding denier has not prepared their country.

 

FrankRegan@RochesterEnvironment.com  (Click on my email for feedback)

 

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* Got news? | Go to my blog: Environmental Thoughts - Rochester, NY or Tweet me @ http://twitter.com/#!/FrankRrrr   On Twitter and Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/RochesterEnvironment  and Examiner/RochesterEnvironment,

 

I post local environmental events, news, and commentary as soon as it happens. The ability of this newsletter to inform and get the public focused on our local environment is dependent on reaching a lot of folks. If you think this newsletter, which continually informs our community on our local environmental news, events, actions, is worthwhile, please encourage others to sign up.  We who care about our environment and future need to ‘Occupy’ the Rochester media to change how the public views environmental news. This newsletter looks and works great on your tablet device.

 

The great conundrum of our times is that in a time of rapidly occurring Climate Change and a rapid disintegration of the environment that we need to thrive and survive, mainstream media still marginalizes environmental concerns. [Check often for this continually updated list on the possible consequences of Climate Change in our region--supported by facts.] If there isn’t a quick and substantial change in how environmental concerns are reported, edited, and chosen in mainstream media, the public will continue to believe that environmental concerns are merely special interest matters, issues they can avoid if they choose.  How can we inform the public and monitor our environment without abridging our Freedoms--in enough time to save ourselves?

 

“Anything else you're interested in is not going to happen if you can't breathe the air and drink the water. Don't sit this one out. Do something. You are by accident of fate alive at an absolutely critical moment in the history of our planet.” -- Carl Sagan

 

My companion book to RochesterEnvironment.com written in 2005 still holds true. Now, “We Don’t Get It!” is an E-Book on Amazon.com and Kindle Amazon.com: We Don't Get It! eBook: Frank Regan: Books

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NewsLinks Environmental NewsLinks – [Highlights of major environmental stories concerning our area from the past week]

 

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Updates Daily Updates – [Connecting the dots on Rochester’s environment. Find out what’s going on environmentally in our area—and why you should care? Clicking on -DISCUSSION – will take you to my blog “Environmental Thoughts, NY, where you can add your comments. Text in BOLD are my comments.]

 

 

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Events Rochester Environmental Events Calendar – [The most complete listing of all environmental events around the Rochester, New York area.]  If you don’t see your event, or know of a local environmental event, please send me the info: FrankRegan@RochesterEnvironment.com with (EV event) in the subject line. Also, be sure to check other calendars and environmental series for multi-day events.

 

May 2014

 

 

June 2014

 

 

September 2014

 

 

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Action Take Action - Often, I receive request to pass on alerts, petitions, Public Comments on local developments, and environmental items needing action by the Rochester Community and around the world. I’ll keep Actions posted until their due date. 

 

 

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