Insurers mull suing cities for not prepping for climate change

Some insurance companies are contemplating lawsuits against cities and towns that fail to prepare for extreme weather events that are due to global warming.

Which events are those? Well, there's the rub. The last two reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change - the IPCC - fail to connect these extreme weather events to global warming. In fact, one climate scientist, an advocate of global warming, calls the extreme weather being related to climate change "a dead issue."

  • “Overall, the most robust global changes in climate extremes are seen in measures of daily temperature, including to some extent, heat waves. Precipitation extremes also appear to be increasing, but there is large spatial variability"
  • "There is limited evidence of changes in extremes associated with other climate variables since the mid-20th century”
  • “Current datasets indicate no significant observed trends in global tropical cyclone frequency over the past century … No robust trends in annual numbers of tropical storms, hurricanes and major hurricanes counts have been identified over the past 100 years in the North Atlantic basin”
  • “In summary, there continues to be a lack of evidence and thus low confidence regarding the sign of trend in the magnitude and/or frequency of floods on a global scale”
  • “In summary, there is low confidence in observed trends in small-scale severe weather phenomena such as hail and thunderstorms because of historical data inhomogeneities and inadequacies in monitoring systems”
  • “In summary, the current assessment concludes that there is not enough evidence at present to suggest more than low confidence in a global-scale observed trend in drought or dryness (lack of rainfall) since the middle of the 20th century due to lack of direct observations, geographical inconsistencies in the trends, and dependencies of inferred trends on the index choice. Based on updated studies, AR4 conclusions regarding global increasing trends in drought since the 1970s were probably overstated. However, it is likely that the frequency and intensity of drought has increased in the Mediterranean and West Africa and decreased in central North America and north-west Australia since 1950” 
  • “In summary, confidence in large scale changes in the intensity of extreme extratropical cyclones since 1900 is low”
There is really not much more to be said here -- the data says what it says, and what it says is so unavoidably obvious that the IPCC has recognized it in its consensus.
Of course, I have no doubts that claims will still be made associating floods, drought, hurricanes and tornadoes with human-caused climate change -- Zombie science -- but I am declaring victory in this debate. Climate campaigners would do their movement a favor by getting themselves on the right side of the evidence. (emphasis mine)
So, insurance companies have their work cut out for them if the number one global warming cheerleader in the world - the IPCC - says that there is little chance of a connection between extreme weather and global warming.
The facts haven't stopped the climate hysterics, or the administration from making those claims anyway.
After reading those facts about the low probabilty of a connection between storms and floods and climate change, here's what the insurance companies are trying to do:

The village was among about 200 municipalities named in the nine class-action lawsuits filed in March by Farmers Insurance Group.

It was "the first loud shot in what I think will be a long-term set of litigation battles over failure to prepare for climate change," Michael Gerrard, who directs the Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University in New York, told NBC News.

The subsidiary of the international firm Zurich Insurance Group argued in its lawsuit that the cities knew climate change had raised the frequency, duration, and intensity of regional rainfall since the 1970s and acknowledged vulnerabilities to increased flooding by adopting a Climate Action Plan in 2008.

"We hoped that by filing this lawsuit we would encourage cities and counties to take preventative steps to reduce the risk of harm in the future," the company said in a statement issued Tuesday by spokesman Trent Frager. That message, according to the statement, was heard. Going forward, Farmers said it would continue to work with the cities "to build stronger, safer communities."

Although Farmers' dropped its case against Chicago and the surrounding communities, it does little to alter the prospects for similar lawsuits in the coming years, according to Gerrard. This is especially true for private companies that lack legal protections which provide government agencies immunity from liability for discretionary decisions such as delaying infrastructure upgrades due to budget constraints.

"One could easily imagine architects and engineers being accused of professional malpractice for designing structures that don't withstand foreseeable climate-related events," he said.

So, the scientists at the IPCC who are most responsible for planning for climate change, can't make a solid connection between an increase in extreme weather and global warming, but insurance companies do. If they are unaware of what the IPCC says, any competent defense attorney will make them so, thus making them look like idiots.

But if they are aware of the IPCC's conclusions, then they are despicable for trying to weasel out of their responsibility to pay cliams by citing junk science. At the very least, any standard of evidence used by the courts would reject the suits of insurance companies based on there being no scientific basis for their claims.


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