The Link Between Deadly Weather and Global Warming Is Real -- and Conservatives Can't Just Wish It Away
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“How long does it take to set up power lines, or build dikes? It take 10, 15, 20 years. In that sense it has an impact [now], and you see the need to educate people,” he told me. “We are in business for well over a hundred years and want to stay in business a lot longer.”
What's more, Swiss Re was quite aware that losses from “extreme weather” did not have to involve dramatic events. Their publication, “Opportunities and Risks of Climate Change” cited a study of the unusually warm summer of 1995, which cost a total of about 1.5 billion British pounds. Thus, “even unspectacular climactic anomalies...can cause losses on a scale normally associated only with natural catastrophes,” the study warned.
Fast forward from 2005 to 2010, and not only were reinsurance companies deeply concerned about losses from global warming, so was the SEC. On January 27, 2010, the SEC issued what it called "Interpretive Guidance on Disclosure Related to Business or Legal Developments Regarding Climate Change". It made no new rules or regulations, but merely clarified how its existing rules and regulations related to the issue of risks related to global warming. Less than two months later, Dale Wannen wrote a about the immediate impacts for Barrington Invesments, “SEC Climate Change Guidelines Lead to New Shareholder Resolutions":
If recent talk about climate change hasn’t already rattled every CEO’s corporate cage, then yesterday’s news regarding shareholder resolutions should do the trick. It was announced during a phone-based news conference today that investors filed a record 95 climate change resolutions against companies ranging from coal mining to big box retailers. That’s a 40 percent increase over last year.
He went on to explain:
This is mostly due to the SEC’s recent guidance talk on climate change disclosure. As the SEC starts to keep a closer eye on these behemoth companies and their long-term impact on the environment, investors are clawing at an opportunity to voice themselves and have the SEC standing co-pilot. And these investors have big money in the game. Jack Ehnes, CEO of CalSTRS [California State Teacher's Retirement System], which manages $131 billion (yes, billion) in assets says, “We want our companies to closely look at the impact climate change legislation and regulation have on them, to realistically assess those risks, and to consider the indirect consequences of climate change-driven regulation and business trends on their activities. The SEC’s interpretive guidance outlines exactly the kind of action we have been asking our portfolio companies to take with regards to the issues raised by climate change.”
For decades now, rightwing narratives have set the agenda for public discussions of climate change, setting up false debates, false dichotomies, and impossible levels of truth. As climate change worsens, and extreme events make it ever harder for them to maintain their hold, they grow ever more desperate, projecting their own hysteria and denial onto others. They are still quite powerful, as shown by the significant drop in the number of Republicans who think global warming is a real problem between 2008 and now. But in the long run, Mother Nature bats last, and she doesn't just change the physical environment, she changes the business environment as well. And that's precisely what's begun to happen, even if it's not dominating headlines yet.
“Our study adds to the list of related studies that do indeed suggest increases in the extremes, which includes droughts, floods, and damaging thunderstorms,” Trapp said. “Knowing the possible impact of the high-end events -- or a high-end month like April 2011 -- will help in adaptation measures and other long-term planning.”