Living in an Age of Unpredictability

Lester Brown, President of the Earth Policy Institute, described one of the disturbing aspects of climate change in these words:

“Climate instability is becoming the new norm.  The time when we could use climate trends of the recent past as a guide to future climate conditions is now history.  We are moving into an age of unpredictability.  (“World on the Edge”, p. 47).

The world’s re-insurance industry is in the front line of the battle to reduce atmospheric greenhouse gases (GHG). Why? Because re-insurers have long recognized that continued emissions of GHG will inevitably cause an increase in the severity and frequency of extreme weather events.

The facts are that insurers in almost every country have seen payments for insured damage resulting from these events spike drastically.  Insurers are warning that the necessary increases in premiums will be well  beyond the amounts to which the public have been paying.

So how will the insurance industry assess future losses in an age of unpredictability?   That uncertainty erodes its ability to provide insurance at a fair price.  Still there can be no practical certainty that even large sums raised by significantly higher premiums will be sufficient to cover actual losses as they occur.

Yet there is suspicion that insurers are using climate change as an excuse to increase profits.  See our blog “Climate Conversations with Club Members”.   The individuals who believe this are much influenced by the ranting of Denialists.

Inevitably the insurance industry has been forced to take public issue with Denialists, who continue to grasp at straws to dispute the inevitable.  Glenn McGillivray, the Executive Director of the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction has written a hard hitting blog.    In our opinion his conclusion is indisputable:

“We are long past the point where we need to direct our time and resources at arguing with deniers. We must now move rapidly toward strategies to mitigate greenhouse gases (which do not fall within the scope of ICLR’s work) and toward strategies for adaptation (or building resilience against extreme weather that is worsening due to climate change, something that is well within our strategic purview).”

For further comments on public reaction to unpredictability see
What is normal in a time of climate change?In the more prosaic language of the National Climate Assessment (US):

“Because of the growing influence of human activities, the climate of the past is not a good basis for future planning.”



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