finally due to a culmination of information released this
summer, we may have even the crackpots convinced that
global warming is a fact, and that human beings are contributing
to it. The journal Science, National Public Radio,
and Mother Jones have all released disparate but
concurring reports that have convinced even some idealist
werewolves—I mean libertarians. Perhaps they can convince
satellite, surface, and weather balloon data on temperature
trends all reported a rising trend but the extent of that
trend differed, as did correlation with computer models.
This gave doubters something to point at, which seems
kind of like standing on railroad tracks and arguing about
how fast the train is coming. More damning was that surface
trends, which showed warming, were not reflected in tropospheric
trends, even though the laws of thermodynamics demand
that they match.
it’s been mooted as of August eleventh. Three articles
appeared the peer-reviewed journal Science, each
of which reports flawed methodologies in the initial data
interpretation. The details would put a normal person
to sleep after 5 double espressos, but the takeaway is
that troposphere trends have been reconciled with surface
trends. Turns out the sky actually is falling. The speed
at which this is happening—exactly how many degrees per
decade—is still being argued.
following day, NPR interviewed Evan Mills, whose article,
also in Science, discussed the probable role insurance
companies will play in defining corporate and government
policy response to global warming. When all its facets
are considered—property, liability, health, life, etc—insurance
is the largest industry in the world. But the roots of
insurance are grounded in loss prevention. The industry
has a gambling problem, and is essentially betting that
you won’t have a horrible accident. They don’t count cards,
but they do things like demand the inception of fire departments,
building codes, and automobile safety devices. Yeah, they’d
be thrown out of Vegas.
by insurance companies from weather-related catastrophes
are rising worldwide, according to Mills, increasing from
a negligible fraction in the 1950s to 25% in the last
decade. Skeptics point to demographics, that more people
are living/vacationing in flood and hurricane hotspots.
But global weather-related losses are trending upward
much faster than these demographic trends. Meanwhile,
the International Panel on Climate Change asserts that
global warming has brought an increase in the intensity
of natural disasters, which in turn drives up the cost
of recovery from such events.
Though highly speculative, Mills believes that insurers
worldwide may soon follow the lead of Swiss Re (one of the
largest reinsurance companies—firms which insure the insurance
companies—in the world) and Munich Re (who first speculated
that climate change could have an impact on their bottom
line back in 1973). These companies have joined a number
of smaller players as signatories of the United Nations
Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI), self
described as “a range of partners [and] organizations to
develop and promote linkages between the environment, sustainability
and financial performance.” Their statement of environmental
commitment by the insurance industry includes a section
on general principles of sustainable development and another
on environmental management.
is a precedent for this: nuclear power. The commercial
insurance industry was always unwilling to assume full
liability when insuring nuclear reactors. But this extends
to you as well. Take a look at your homeowners’ insurance
policy, or your auto policy; you’ll find a “nuclear hazard
exclusion.” So if North Korea bombs us or the nuclear
reactor down the road has a melt down, not only will all
your hair and teeth fall out, but your car, which may
have melted, won’t be covered—so you’ll have to call in
sick to work.
insurance companies begin lumping big oil and coal, and
for that matter manufacturing facilities in developing
countries with few or no environmental regulations, into
similar categories as nuclear energy, the world will be
forced to prick up its ears. “Do right or we won’t insure
you” carries vastly more weight than “do right or hippies
though, nobody should need this much convincing since
May/June issue of Mother Jones magazine. Their
“special project on global warming” included a list of
forty “public policy” groups that have been funded in
varying degrees by Exxon Mobil. The list includes the
CATO institute, the misnamed Advancement of Sound Science
Center and, sadly, the Arizona State University Office
of Climatology. These organizations crank out disinformation
to the general media and successfully shift the focus
of debate from science to politics.
shift is the telling feature, the big red PROPAGANDA flag.
Scientists are not rewarded for educating the general
public. They rely on peer review, manifested in scientific
journals. Research studies are submitted, reviewed by
a panel of scientists and, if the research is deemed legitimate
by people in the field, published. Once published,
numerous other scientists throughout the nation and sometimes
the world attempt to repeat the experiment. This is simply
how it’s done, just as a pizza is made by putting sauce
and cheese on dough. You can put sauce on bread and stuff
it in the toaster oven and call it pizza, but we all know
it’s not—you’re just poor.
sauce on bread in this case is the “other side’s” representation
of global climate change. If the petroleum industry truly
had compelling scientific evidence to support their case,
they would keep it in the scientific arena. The fact that
they have chosen instead to fight on the streets and in
political settings says they too are poor, truth-poor.
media also must be held accountable: Whenever page-time
is devoted to stories about global climate change, industry-funded
naysayers are granted equal time, in the name of being
“fair and balanced.” How about we skip the fair and balanced
and aim instead for true and accurate?
are still a number of stragglers. On August 17th, CATO
institute fellow J. Patrick Michaels had a piece in Reason
magazine, slamming (peer-reviewed and highly respected)
Nature for an article about global warming increasing
the intensity of hurricanes. I guess Mr. Michaels won’t
be looking for a job in the insurance business, but the
petroleum industry probably already has a parking spot
reserved for him.
I say unto he and to all others sharing his thinking:
You don’t care about the environment? That’s groovy. Because
all you’re actually doing is making the planet unlivable
for you. Mother Nature will persist; just take a look
at any neglected stretch of highway. The weeds bust right
through it. It will be a big cockroach sitting in your
armchair drinking your beer and watching your television.
Yes, there need not be a special place in Hell for these
folks; Hell will gladly come to Earth for them. Unfortunately,
it’s coming for you too.