It may very well be that the insurance industry will become climate change deniers’ most formidable opponent as the industry moves to shore itself up.
Economic interests tend to have strange bed fellows and the corporate nature of insurance is no guarantee that it will look kindly on other corporates in other sectors mitigating against its interests e.g. through funding climate change deniers in order to sow discord and promote skepticism.
That is one of the useful aspects of the market mechanism!
Even the most unscrupulous black hearted of corporate executives may become Green Warriors by default if it affects their pockets through non-performance of the companies they direct.
The insurance industry needs to look after its business interests and it will pursue these regardless of how much money is thrown at lobbyists seeking to deny climate change on behalf of vested interests such as those in fossil fuels.
The insurance industry will no doubt take note of the remarkable climate scientist, Oppenheimer, who predicted Sandy.
Grim academic satisfaction no doubt, but millions of people owe much to his predictions and the commensurate preparations that took place before Sandy reached the area.
After all, the loss of life as tragic as it always is, was small compared to the population size affected.
Lesser nations would have experienced greater tragedy.
Therein lies the greatness of the USA, its ability to deal with major disasters through its preparedness.
And also, despite all the criticisms of the US, its ability to be a 'melting pot'.
The Latino hand signing interpreter alongside the Mayor of New York in the many TV appearances during the disaster symbolizes America.
Shut your eyes and you will never guess the ethnicity of Americans, certainly not from their accents or vocal mannerisms.
Yet no other nation has ever democratically voted a member of an ethnic minority into power as its President!
Not even India, the largest democracy in the world, was able to do this with the Italian born Sonia Gandhi.
And it will take a while yet for the remarkable South Africa to follow suit – although it is understandable that an era of trust needs to elapse before black South Africans might vote for a white president.
But turning back to Climate ... unlike earthquakes, Climate seems to be more predictable (... the Italian earthquake experts bizarrely facing imprisonment might regret their choice of scientific specialization if their court appeals fall on deaf judicial ears).
100-year floods may in future be as frequent as one or two every decade and the insurance industry will need to influence as it did in the past (see the article above).
The Big Apple must surely still be the most powerful metro in the world but a series of recurrent Sandys would not only hurt the metro but also the US.
If the damage reaches say $50 billion dollars, in a $16 trillion dollar US economy (in 2012 it was R15,7 trillion) then Sandy may have caused damage in the region of about 3% of the US economy!
With China at about half of the US GDP at the moment and still growing at a formidable rate it may be that the vested US interests that seek to be an obstacle to a Greener economy may take on the ‘market-damning hue’ of being unpatriotic Americans.
Since much of these interests supporting climate change denial are within Conservative America it will be a remarkable irony indeed!
In the meantime an article in the Washington Post by Brad Plumer suggests that there are inevitably only two options, actually concurrent ones as the damage has already been done:
“There are two main strategies involved in tackling climate change. First, we could try to slow or stop the pace of global warming by curbing our greenhouse-gas emissions. And second, there’s adaptation — we can try to revamp our existing infrastructure to protect ourselves against the effects of a warmer planet.”
This is well echoed in the following article by Chris Nelder:
“Micro-grids, a strategy I’ve been banging on about for years, should finally get the attention of city planners and administrators whose municipalities are now without power. With good planning and modest investment — particularly compared to the losses they’re realizing from outages — there is no reason why most communities can’t keep critical electrical loads running when the big grid goes down. We should also see a renewed commitment to building a smarter, more robust power grid, including burying overhead power distribution lines.”
The idea of a climate change resilience will no doubt start shaping the look of the future all over the world.