by Val Germann
New battle lines are rapidly being drawn in what can only be called a sudden explosion in the public relations war over climate change. On one side of no man’s land are the energy companies and their soul mates in the auto industry who deny there’s any such thing. On the other side of the trenches are (for now) the giant insurers and reinsurers, who stand to lose their shirts if the climate continues to head south. The latest volley in this new war was fired yesterday by an official of Lloyd’s of London and his comments immediately showed up on the Yahoo news website. Here’s a relevant quote:
“We cannot risk being in denial on catastrophe trends. So, two years after Katrina and one year away from a national (US) election, where’s the public debate on catastrophe trends?” he said.
That’s a very good question and the answer is that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are taking most of the U.S. public’s attention points right now. Well, the wars plus American Idol, truth to tell. But, no matter, it’s hard to get people focused on long run problems when there are shooting wars over petroleum in the news every hour and with more conflict to come, most likely. It’s a tough crowd for climate change when you consider the competition.
Still and all, the Lloyd’s man does a good job of trying to raise the climate issue, his venue the National Press Club in Washington. Here’s another quote:
Governments and businesses must act now against climate change, and the United States needs a bigger public debate about its risks, the chairman of the Lloyd’s insurance market said. Peter Levene warned that storms bigger than Hurricane Katrina are likely to batter the United States in coming years despite a relatively calm 2006 Atlantic hurricane season.
Of course, these comments are to a great degree self-serving, especially when he goes on to criticize U.S. insurance regulations. However, these huge insurers truly are on the front lines in whatever attacks climate might be making on our lives and treasure. It would well serve the rest of us, all of us, to heed their warnings.