Do you have an insurance policy? Car insurance? Homeowners? Renters? Flood insurance?
Your likely answer to at least one of these questions is yes. Now ask yourself this question: Why?
Why do you take out these policies? Why do you renew these policies year after year? Have you had a car accident that required insurance? Has your home been broken into? Your apartment building burned down? Flood wiped away your home?
Your likely answer to each of these questions is no. So why then do you pay money for something that hasn’t actually happened to you and may never occur?
The answer is that you know that policies will come in handy in the rare event of catastrophe. But the hope is (for you and for the insurance company) that none of these catastrophes ever become reality. And for the good majority of us, they don’t.
But, we still continue to pay year in and year out just in case—in case we’re not invincible. We would rather be safe than sorry.
Let’s take a step back now and apply this idea to another area in need of insurance: our climate.
Stay with me for a minute before you get huffy about this idea. For too many people, a changing climate has become a question of: is the science right or is the science wrong? Is our changing climate the result of human-induced or naturally occurring processes? Put aside your thoughts on each of those questions because these are actually secondary questions when it comes to this issue. Instead, consider climate change through this lense.
Climate, especially a rapidly changing one, necessitates insurance. Why? There are many possible disastrous effects stemming from our changing climate.
Climate change could melt our ice caps. Melting ice caps would increase sea levels. Increasing sea levels would decrease our shorelines, wiping away our beaches and flooding shoreline properties.
It could also lead to changes in our waterways, including increases in stream flow levels or meandering stream changes. This could precipitate more flooding or floods in new areas.
Increasing temperatures have an effect on sea surface temperatures. We know that at a fundamental level certain sea surface temperatures contribute to hurricanes and hurricane strength.
The increase in temperatures would also make us more susceptible to droughts and/or wildfires.
These possible consequences boils down to this: changing climate means changes in the nature of the threats that we face. We need to protect ourselves from these threats.
So why then would our government not have an insurance policy for climate?
This is a fundamental problem that gets lost in the heated debate over the science. We need to protect ourselves. It’s not a matter of who is right versus who is wrong. No one wants to truly be right about the catastrophic consequences of climate change. But, the idea is that they could happen. No one wants them to happen. But, they could. No one wants to get in an accident. But, it could happen. No one wants their home to get broken into. But, it could happen. In the event that any of these catastrophic events actually happen to you, isn’t it better to be prepared with an insurance policy?