Insurance and Climate Change column

Economics of Climate Change, Climate Fiction and Climate Control

By | October 29, 2015

With fresh news out on the global economic cost of climate change, an enticing climate fiction contest and a sweet victory for this column, it would take until Christmas to individually cover it all in a bimonthly space.

So I’ll give it to you in one shot.

Before the above topics, more immediate news comes from French financial giant AXA.

AXA issued a report showing that three-quarters of small to medium-sized businesses worldwide believe climate change poses a long-term risk to their business, but only about one-fifth of them are doing anything to prepare for it.

AXA's
AXA’s “Business Unusual” report shows how cities and small to mid-size business are preparing for climate change.

AXA’s “Business Unusual” report, commissioned by AXA Group and conducted by the Penn Schoen Berland Institute, is touted as the first international study to examine how cities and small-to-medium sized businesses – or small to medium-sized enterprises, SMEs, in AXA’s parlance – are working to become more resilient to the consequences of climate change.

Survey participants included 1,104 SME directors and urban leaders from major cities in 18 countries across Europe, the Americas and Asia.

SMEs in other nations surveyed seem to be slightly more prepared than the U.S. For all 18 countries polled the survey shows 27 percent of SMEs are adapting to be more resilient, yet only 19 percent of U.S. businesses are doing anything to increase resilience. Oddly 33 percent of U.S. businesses say they feel “well prepared” to deal with the climate impact.

A large share of U.S. SMEs polled (40 percent) have no intention to develop a strategy or have a plan in place to deal with climate-related risks.

According to the survey, nearly to half of SMEs in the U.S. have already been impacted by climate change.

AXA Chairman and CEO Henri de Castries in a statement expressed hope that the findings outlined in the report will help public authorities and businesses better plan for the consequences of global warming.

“And it is our conviction that thanks to its expertise in risk modeling and prevention, crisis management and better repair, the insurance industry of which AXA is one of the driving forces will become a decisive partner in this global effort to develop resilience to climate change,” he stated.


Last week a group of Stanford University researchers warned there is a higher-than-expected global economic cost of climate change.

The researchers in a study published in the Journal Nature calculated that economic growth will drop off sharply after temperatures pass a critical heat threshold by 2100. That’s if climate change continues unchecked.

The study shows that in nations that are normally quite cold, which are mostly wealthy northern countries, higher temperatures are associated with faster economic growth. According to the study, those countries may initially experience a benefit from a warmer world, but beyond a certain point it’s all downhill.

The researchers found that by 2100 the per-capita incomes of 77 percent of the world’s nations would fall relative to current levels, and that global incomes could fall 23 percent relative to a world without climate change.

The researchers put out a nifty map that enables visitors to scroll over a country and see how much the GDP is projected to drop. A 31 percent drop in the U.S. GDP is projected by 2100.


Whether you believe in climate change or think it’s a bunch of hooey, there’s an opportunity to make some money from it if you’re feeling really creative.

Writers with a dystopian flare can enter the 2016 Climate Fiction Short Story Contest. The Imagination and Climate Futures Initiative and the College for Liberal Arts and Sciences at Arizona State University are running the contest, which will be judged by science fiction author Kim Stanley Robinson, along with other “climate fiction experts.”

Who knew climate fiction was a thing?

A recent article in The Atlantic describes it as new literary genre that focuses on the consequences of environmental issues, and states that it’s “striking a chord with younger generations.”

The big prize for the climate fiction contest is $1,000 for an up-to 5,000-word story. The deadline is Jan. 15, 2016.


Speaking of prizes, this column’s a winner.

My boss, Wells Media Group’s Chief Content Officer Andrew G. Simpson, sent me to New York two weeks ago to an awards ceremony attended by the likes of Entertainment Weekly, People and Politico, which were among the many contenders for consumer awards, as well as business publications like Advertising Age, Financial Planning and Inc.

The awards are hosted by the publishing industry’s Folio magazine. This column and Insurance Journal’s sister publication, Carrier Management, were nominated for various awards for works that were judged by a panel of more than 300 judges who narrowed 2,800 entries to select the Folio finalists and winners.

Climate Control won the Eddie award in the category of B-to-B Column Banking/Business/Finance.

Thanks Andy for the nomination. BTW, is bragging about the award during a $150 Italian dinner at La Rivista off the Broadway area a work-related expense? If not, maybe that plug’ll get me a discount next time.

Andy is also responsible for cleaning up my copy and helping with headlines on Climate Control. He is among the few go-to editor/reporter types who have offered headline and copyediting assistance.

Before any of you keen-eyed skeptics mention it, I do know that I just opened myself up by putting this note about the column just below an item about a climate fiction contest. We can’t always take ourselves too seriously.

Among the three columns submitted for the win was a report on how catastrophe modeling is on the cusp of a paradigm shift, in which I talked to modelers Karen Clark, owner of Boston-based Karen Clark & Co., Tom Larsen, senior vice president and product architect at CoreLogic EQECAT, Paul Wilson, vice president of model development for RMS and Jayanta Guin, executive vice president of AIR Worldwide.

The other column was about how climate change regulation for insurers was not “out of the realm of possibility,” featuring interviews with PricewaterhouseCoopers and Washington Insurance Commission Mike Kreidler, who chairs the National Association of Insurance Commissioners Climate Change and Global Warming Working Group.

The third one bore the headline: Climate Change in 2015 Could be Bigger Than Religion – or Selfie. I predicted the phrase “climate change,” which was at the time was nearly as popular in Google search results as phrases like “Jesus Christ,” “Mohamed” and “selfie,” would be one of the most searched phrases in 2015.

In fact, I predicted it would be more popular than “selfie,” which based on a basic Google search today yields 284 million results to 102 million for “climate change.”

Can’t win ’em all.

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