How you pay for tomorrow's scares, today

Disaster addiction - and the cost of your insurance

Höppe springs eternal

Intriguingly Jeworrek’s Munich Re colleague Peter Höppe, who is also quoted by the BBC, is an author of the Science paper cited above, which stresses the current impossibility of attributing natural disaster losses to the effects of global warming. At the Prometheus blog, Höppe’s co-author on the Science paper, Roger Pielke Jr from the University of Colorado, flags up the divergence between the words of Höppe-the-scientist and Höppe-the-insurer:

"Munich Re scientists (Hoeppe and E. Faust) publish in Science that attribution of losses to greenhouse gas emissions is not presently possible, and a Munich Re board member says that such attribution is 'very probably' leading to more extreme events," notes Pielke.

It’s certainly hard to see how an insurance company can have had more success than ‘the world’s 2500 top climate scientists’ at isolating the effect of climate change on the occurrence of severe weather events. But then again, perhaps we can look forward to the IPCC citing Munich Re on matters of climate-change-induced weather patterns in its own reports in the future. And in a world where top scientists are wont to defer to economists on scientific matters of climate change, that is not such an unlikely possibility.

The economist in question is Professor Lord Sir Nicholas Stern, author of the Stern Report.

Stern has rather a close working relationship with Munich Re. Understandably, Munich Re is rather proud of the fact that its dirty insurance money funds such a high profile environmentalist:

Professor Lord Sir Nick has nothing to be embarrassed about, because nobody - least of all the BBC - seems at all bothered by any such conflict of interests. They are all too busy worrying about who Exxon is funding. Those who shriek the loudest about climate change - whether it’s insurance companies, Stern, the Royal Society, Lord Adair Turner or the Tickell dynasty - often have the most to gain from alarmism.

The insurance premiums we pay are largely based on the historical record - but they also include some measure of the risk of the risk of damage tomorrow. This needs to be rational calculation: if the risk of catastrophic climate change is exaggerated, then we are paying too much.

It seems that the greens have been right all along: an economic tail really does wag the scientific dog. ®

An earlier version of this article appears at the Climate Resistance blog.

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