Re: Too Many Cars!/Insurers
Hi Sheryl -
Thanks for your comments, but I must respectfully disagree with your
analysis of the article that I forwarded.
<<While I am also concerned that climate changes are taking place as
of human activities, the inference that increased losses experienced by
insurance companies is due to changes in the weather is not necessarily a
careful evaluation of the situation. An alternative reason for their
concern for the damages due to weather is the increase in insured
investment in these regions.>>
As I mentioned in my notes from the original article, the increased losses
from weather-related natural disasters that the article described were
_both insured and uninsured losses_, so this is not an issue of insurance
coverage increasing and thus insured losses increasing. _Total_ losses are
In addition, the article presents evidence that there is decreased not
increased insurance being offered in these risky areas (ex. coastlines,
islands, and valleys vulnerable to flooding), with some areas losing some
types of coverage almost completely (i.e., no insurance company will take
on the risk). "Areas of southern Florida and the Caribbean, for example,
have become virtually uninsurable."
There are largely uninsured areas bearing the costs of these
weather-related natural disasters with very little help from insurance
companies (ex. in 1995, souther China had floods that cost $6.7 billion and
North Korea had floods that cost $15 billion and left millions on the brink
of starvation). Not all the losses are covered by insurance.
The point is that the total losses have a clear and steady and dramatic
uptrend, and that that is a matter of _concern_ to the insurance companies
because of the impact on their business (likely both current and future).
It should of course be a matter of concern to all of us, but I think it's
quite significant that such conservative folks felt that the evidence of
the link between these losses and emissions of climate-altering greenhouse
gasses was so compelling that many insurers - including multi-billion
dollar companies - came to the July 1996 Conference of the Parties to the
Convention on Climate Change in Geneva and 60 signed onto a statement
calling on governments to substantially reduce emissions of
climate-altering greenhouse gasses. I think that this comes from so many
companies in such a conservative fact-based industry as the insurance
industry lends incredible weight and credibility to the scientific evidence
of the link between human activities, climate change, and the increasing
"frequency and severity of storms and other weather disturbances."
<<The increase in uninsured losses also reflects "development" in these
regions and the intensification of structures and goods which are
economically valued that can be "lost" in weather-related disasters.>>
This angle I find interesting and would be interested to see analysis done
on it. I do feel that we need to better comprehend the risks of developing
in hazardous places - we can be ignorant of the reality of weather in these
Nevertheless, I think one would find the substance of the original
information is still correct because (1) the increase in losses is quite
clear and dramatic (2) some areas unable to get insurance have been
developed for many years (ex. Florida) (3) some areas with losses, ex.
China, likely have some increase in development, but not enough to account
for the clear and dramatic uptrend. (4) The evidence on the link with
greenhouse gasses has convinced the insurance industry to take the risk of
acting in the environmental domain, which might cause them to be subject to
derision if they didn't have good facts to back them up. Surely, if these
changes could merely be explained by where the development and insurance
was located, they could only focus on defining who and what they insured.
The fact that they would enter the environmental domain persuades me that
the evidence beyond that is compelling to conservative analysis. (5) This
insurance evidence is part of a larger picture, which includes scientific
evidence of the changes in global temperatures and weather changes. (6) I
think we need to be prudent and consider the weight of evidence and take
appropriate actions - by the time we thoroughly study every possible
variable, this poor earth of ours might be beyond retrieval, or at least
beyond being habitable for our species....
I hope these thoughts are useful -