Last week, the Geneva Association, which describes itself as “the leading international insurance think tank for strategically important insurance and risk management issues,” issued a report entitled “Extreme events and insurance: 2011 annus horribilis.” Quick take-away? Insurance losses are growing. Why? While there were large earthquakes in 2011, the bigger long-term concerns are extreme weather events and an increasing number of people and resources located in areas subject to such events.
What’s my primary response to reports such as this, other than that dog is biting man again? It’s to wonder what climate skeptics think of all this. I understand the inclination of conservatives to discount Chicken Little assertions from environmentalists. I often have the same reaction; it seems as though environmentalists are by nature pessimists who like bad news.
However, it’s difficult to make the same charge against insurers. If you are not risk-neutral, you probably aren’t in the insurance industry. Moreover, climate skeptics have to admit that the there isn’t much more of a bottom-line business than insurance. It doesn’t do insurers much good to raise concerns that aren’t based solidly in climate science and statistics. Do the skeptics think that the insurers have simply been brainwashed by Greenpeace?
I’m more skeptical of that than I am of climate science.