The Republican Party has been extremely effective in convincing their base that climate change isn’t real. By attacking basic scientific research, they have put facts and truth at risk. They have convinced their followers that science can’t be trusted because it is controlled by liberals and leftist research institutions.
But the scientific community is being joined by a new ally in warning the world about the dire consequences of climate change. The world’s insurance industry is joining the climate concern chorus by warning that extreme weather events are threatening their industry economically. It will be considerably more difficult for Republican climate deniers to attack the insurance industry, a group so closely associated with the business community.
The impact of climate change will certainly be a part of the conversation as the insurance industry evaluates the economic toll from hurricanes like Florence. Both the warming climate and rising sea levels fuels hurricanes by increasing rainfall amounts and pushes storm surge levels to record heights. Florence and other recent hurricanes clearly fit the scientific models that the insurance industry relies on to evaluate risk.
A recent report from Moody’s Investment Service details, “insurance losses—from cyclones, storms, floods, extreme temperatures, droughts and wildfires—have risen in recent decades as natural disasters have grown more common. The insurance industry is among the most exposed sectors of the global economy to the effects of climate change, and those risks could grow as coastal cities expand.”
A new study from the International Association of Insurance Supervisors and the Sustainable Insurance Forum is getting widespread attention from the industry. That report quotes data from the World Meteorological Organization concluding that “80 percent of natural disasters between 2005 and 2015 were in some way climate related.”
According to Aon, the world’s largest insurance broker, “total economic losses from hurricanes in 2017 were nearly five times the average of the preceding 16 years, losses from wildfires were four-times higher, and losses from other severe storms were 60 percent higher.”
The insurance industry is on the front line of climate change. Their very economic survival is dependent on providing realistic risk assessments. Their premiums must reflect honest cost evaluations for future climate related economic damage or they go bankrupt. As the insurance industry becomes more vocal in their climate warnings, climate advocates must attempt to build an alliance with them.
President Trump calls climate change, “a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese.” But the real target of his attacks is on basic scientific research and the institutions associated with that research. He and other Republicans are questioning the credibility of the world’s universities as well as both public and private institutions conducting climate research.
Trump has filled his administration with climate change deniers that are implementing his anti-science agenda. They’re attacking the scientific community by eliminating any reference to climate change and the accompanying research from government websites. From the EPA to the Energy Department, all references to climate change, global warming, greenhouse gases and clean energy are being removed.
This is the basis for the much larger attack on facts. If the credibility of basic scientific research and trust in America’s colleges and universities can be questioned, who or what becomes the gatekeeper of the truth. As Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s attorney, recently proclaimed, “truth isn’t truth.”
The growing voice of the insurance industry should demonstrate to the public that climate change isn’t a partisan issue. The Republican Party at every level has a civic responsibility to condemn Trump and his allies for their attacks on science and truth. A warming globe endangers all of humanity.
by Rick Smith