While American moviegoers and TV watchers are fixating on computer-generated horror shows like Into the Storm and Sharknado 2, they seem to be blissfully ignorant of the fact that we are living through the opening sequence of a real horror show called global warming.
For years scientists warned us that the earth's temperature is inching up degree by degree. And as it does, we are starting to see all kinds of climate changes -- combined with some very nasty side effects.
Stop me if this sounds all too familiar: drought in southern California, flooding in the heartland, firestorms in the northwest, sinkholes in central Florida, and algae blooms in Lake Erie.
Some of these events have other contributing factors, but it's interesting that now even the naysayers don't deny the earth is warming. But they'll only say that it's "temporary." So you might ask: "Temporary for whom?"
One of the side effects of climate change is plagues. Its mainly African victims can't get enough food to eat or water to drink and wash in. And many Americans now fear that the deadly Ebola virus will erupt in our country.
Insurance companies in denial
Given what's at stake you would think our domestic insurance companies would speak out about global warming. After all, the property-casualty insurance industry has billions of dollars invested in protecting our nation.
But until recently you hardly heard a word. Then, finally, one insurer spoke up … sort of.
Last April Farmers Insurance Co. filed nine class action lawsuits claiming local governments in the Chicago area were aware that climate change was adding to heavier rainfall, but these municipalities failed to improve sewers and storm drains. The suit claimed that this resulted in "geysers of sewage" coating basement walls and washing away furniture during a flood.
While the Farmers' suits only mentioned these local governments, it could have been the start of a barrage of suits filed by other insurers to force states and the federal government to take action. But instead of firing a cannon, Farmers simply raised a white flag. Farmers ended up dropping the lawsuits.
What, me worry?
This is typical of domestic insurance companies. A recent survey by Ceres, a global economy advocacy group that focuses on environmental issues, found that only about one-eighth of all insurance companies even have a plan to deal with climate change.
So why does the statistically and financially savvy insurance industry have an Alfred E. Newman of Mad Magazine "What, me worry?" mentality about global warming?
The answer is simple, in my opinion. Domestic insurance companies conduct business in a socialist paradise in which they are coddled by our more than willing federal government.
For example: It's a well-known fact that as icebergs melt, sea levels rise. By 2100 our country's flood-hazard zones will increase by 55 percent, essentially putting most of Miami and New York City underwater or, at the very least, in jeopardy.
But flood insurance is a federal program, so private insurers have no risk. Truth be told, they make money even when there's no flood because they collect about one-third of the premiums paid for this insurance in the form of a management fee. And if there is a flood, the taxpayers are ultimately responsible for the cost of the program, which is now $25 billion in debt and only becoming more costly.
If insurance companies have to pay for damages caused by other weather related incidents like tornadoes, their expenses are capped and the rest is handled by reinsurance, usually purchased from overseas companies including Lloyd's of London, Munich Re and Swiss Re.
So it's not surprising that the best studies on global warming, and the loudest voices calling for "strong forward planning," come from people like John Nelson, the chairman of Lloyd's.
Insurance companies in Europe are far more sensitive to weather risks because their bottom lines are harmed when there's a massive flood. Unlike our country, European flood insurance is generally handled by its insurers and not by its governments, so with their money at risk their voices are louder.
Recent global warming studies show that nature will adapt. Fire historians say that those massive blazes in the northwest might destroy the forests forever, but the burned-out areas will return to grasslands.
So we may see palm trees in Maine and three growing seasons in Canada, but our planet will survive. If species such as the polar bear go the way of the dinosaur and the mastodon, we can only hope that we don't.