Overwhelming Disaster

A couple of weeks ago I was in discussion with some people considering what would trigger urgent global action on reducing Greenhouse Gas emissions.

Not just words and forms of words, but serious practical action to re-figure the global Economy around Low Carbon principles.

Someone mentioned Katrina. And someone else mentioned that despite the estimations showing that the damage from Hurricane Katrina was probably partly due to global warming (or, rather, ocean warming), it hasn’t been a wake-up call.

I suggested that we should look to the international disaster relief agencies. All the big players, including Christian Aid and Oxfam, have a very strong message on Climate Change and how it impacts their work.

I hypothesised that there may come a time, in the not too distant future, when the number of coinciding natural disasters could overwhelm the funds and resources that the disasters and emergencies organisations have available.

And what would happen then ? There would be calls for a massive global charity donation campaign, but there would also be a realisation that a tipping point had been reached in the world’s ability to cope with Climate Change.

I might be right. The awful realisation that Climate Change damages are too much to adapt to may come, within a few years, when disasters begin to pile up on each other with no respite.

But the tipping point in global awareness may well come before then. The British Insurance industry is already beginning to dig its heels in on this problem :-

http://www.reuters.com/article/GCA-BusinessofGreen/idUSTRE5A34BC20091104

“Insurance sector can’t cope with climate change: trade group : Wed Nov 4, 2009 : By Sarah Hills : LONDON (Reuters) – The general insurance industry may not be able to cope with the increased frequency and severity of floods and typhoons brought about by climate change, the Association of British Insurers (ABI) said on Wednesday. ABI research, commissioned from Britain’s Met Office and catastrophe risk modeling firm AIR Worldwide, examined the implications of 2 Celsius, 4C and 6C increases in global mean temperature on inland flooding and windstorms in Great Britain, and typhoons in China. The ABI says a 2C is rise inevitable and this will increase average annual insured losses in Britain from inland flooding by eight percent, or by 47 million pounds ($77 million), to 600 million pounds. This would indicate a 16 percent theoretical impact on insurance pricing (with an annual GDP growth of 2.25 percent assumed). Nick Starling, the ABI’s Director of General Insurance and Health, told the Climate Change conference in London that the continued widespread availability of property insurance in the future depends on taking action now to manage the threats of climate change. “The clear message to world leaders meeting at the UN’s Copenhagen Climate Change Summit in December is that they must reach agreement on ambitious emission reduction targets.”…”

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