Ready or Not (Editorial)

by Arkansas Business Editors  on Monday, Dec. 9, 2013 12:00 am  

The scientific consensus is that the Earth is warming and that increasing temperatures, in a complex interplay of factors, are causing more frequent extreme weather events.

For some, however, climate change has evolved into a question of belief, like belief in God or karma or the efficient markets. It’s also become a political marker: Those who “believe” in climate change must be socialists or, worse, Democrats.

Well, tell that to the socialists in the insurance industry. As Smithsonian Magazine reported in September: “When it comes to calculating the likelihood of catastrophic weather, one group has an obvious and immediate financial stake in the game: the insurance industry. And in recent years, the industry researchers who attempt to determine the annual odds of catastrophic weather-related disasters — including floods and wind storms — say they’re seeing something new.”

What they’re seeing is climate change. Risk models based on past weather events are insufficient.

One sign of maturity is an ability to learn from experience and from the experience of others. In an Arkansas Democrat-Gazette article Thursday about the run-up to an expected ice storm, this ability was evident. Utility spokesmen and law enforcement officials explained that the great ice storm of 2009, which downed nearly 6,000 utility poles and left some Arkansans without power for up to three weeks, had taught them lessons.

“We’re telling our members to prepare, prepare,” Mel Coleman, a spokesman for North Arkansas Electric Cooperative, told the newspaper. “It’s better to prepare and not need it than to not prepare and need it.”

If “climate change” is a phrase you simply can’t stomach, consider the benefit of acknowledging the increasing frequency of extreme weather events. Consider that it’s time to prepare.



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