Warns of Global Warming Catastrophe
Wednesday March 3, 11:40 PM
GENEVA (Reuters) -
The world's second-largest reinsurer, Swiss Re, warned on Wednesday that
the costs of natural disasters, aggravated by global warming, threatened
to spiral out of control, forcing the human race into a catastrophe of its
In a report
revealing how climate change is rising on the corporate agenda, Swiss Re
said the economic costs of such disasters threatened to double to $150
billion (82 billion pounds) a year in 10 years, hitting insurers with
$30-40 billion in claims, or the equivalent of one World Trade Centre
"There is a
danger that human intervention will accelerate and intensify natural
climate changes to such a point that it will become impossible to adapt
our socio-economic systems in time," Swiss Re said in the report.
race can lead itself into this climatic catastrophe -- or it can avert
The report comes
as a growing number of policy experts warn that the environment is
emerging as the security threat of the 21st century, eclipsing terrorism.
global warming to trigger increasingly frequent and violent storms, heat
waves, flooding, tornadoes, and cyclones while other areas slip into cold
will continue to rise, glaciers retreat and snow cover decline," the
Losses to insurers from environmental events have risen exponentially over
the past 30 years, and are expected to rise even more rapidly still, said
Swiss Re climate expert Pamela Heck.
tell us that certain extreme events are going to increase in intensity and
frequency in the future," Heck told Reuters by telephone.
"Climate change is very much in the mind of the insurance
Over the past
century, the average global temperature has increased by 0.6 degrees
Centigrade, the largest rise for the northern hemisphere in the past 1,000
years, Swiss Re said.
In the short- and
medium-term, simply knowing that the planet is warming will allow society
to adapt, for example, through infrastructure to cope with more-frequent
floods or by instructing farmers to use drought-resistant cereals.
In other cases,
governments need to restrict risk-taking, such as approving housing
developments in low-lying areas, and improve catastrophe management
In the long term,
Swiss Re said, greenhouse gases widely thought to trigger global warming
will need to be reduced, the use of fossil fuels cut and new energy
role of the insurance industry is through establishing risk adequate
tariffs and to give the risk taker the opportunity to implement
appropriate measures to reduce the chance of possible losses," Heck