Monday, June 04, 2012

Who is going to pay for natural disasters in the age of warming?


When you think about the Likely Changes coming to our NYS region because of Climate Change the money spent out by our government for natural disasters could get pretty steep.  We are grateful that our representatives are willing to step up to the plate to provide financial assistance when extreme weather strikes, but what are we going to do as extreme natural events become more common.

New York communities urged to apply for disaster relief - Canandaigua, NY - MPNnow “Finger Lakes, N.Y. —  U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand announced Wednesday $53,735,000 is available for communities affected by natural disasters through the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration.” (March 28, 2012)  Home - Canandaigua, NY - MPNnow

Our collected inability to address Climate Change and plan for a vast increase in natural disasters that US insurance companies are not prepared for because they are still in denial--

“Yet despite widespread recognition of the effects climate change will likely have on extreme events, few insurers were able to articulate a coherent plan to manage the risks and opportunities associated with climate change. Of 88 companies surveyed, only 11 reported having formal climate change policies, and more than 60 percent of the respondents reported having no dedicated management approach for assessing climate risk. This was not true uniformly across the industry, however. “ CLIMATE RISK DISCLOSURE BY INSURERS: Evaluating Insurer Responses to the NAIC Climate Disclosure Survey”  A Ceres Report September 2011

--means we the people are going to be paying for individuals, businesses, communities, counties, states, and insurance companies unwillingness to face the myriad of floods, heat waves, crop failures, and many more catastrophes linked to extreme weather and Climate Change. 

Planning by cities, counties, states, and insurance companies on how to address Climate Change and educating the public on what’s coming is critical for surviving this century.  Planning means we can change how we do things so the impacts of Climate Change don’t hit us in the pocketbook so hard—like updating our telecommunications, transportation, and water infrastructures so they aren’t so vulnerable to extreme weather.

The longer we remain at business as usual and deny why all these extreme events are happening the leaner our public funds will become because we haven’t prepared.  Thinking that these extreme events will increase gradually, or we’ll just sue the fossil fuel industry for knowingly their dirty deeds warmed the planet and a host of other excuses just won’t solve a problem of physics: put more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and the place warms up.

Like it or not, we are going to see more and more stories linking extreme weather events and Climate Change in our major news sources:

Reports link heat waves, deluges to climate change Scientists are increasingly confident that the uptick in heat waves and heavier rainfall is linked to human-caused greenhouse-gas emissions, posing a heightened risk to the world’s population, according to two reports issued in the past week. On Wednesday, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a 594-page study suggesting that when it comes to weather observations since 1950, there has been a “change in some extremes,” which stem in part from global warming. (March 28, 2012) Washington Post

The longer we take to ‘get it’ on Climate Change and properly plan for it, the more expensive it’s going to be—that’s if we survive it.

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