Nobel thoughts

I’m not sure that the awarding of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize to Al Gore and the United Nations’ International Panel on Climate Change for their work raising awareness of global climate change is going to do much to sway the opinions of some folks on the climate change issue.

But, it’s quickly becoming obvious that in the short term anyway, it’s going to raise some hackles.

There will no doubt be some discomfiture among those who challenge suggestions that global climate change is a cause for concern, and those who suggest that current changes in world weather patterns represent no more than natural cyclical phenomena and are not related to man-made causes.

And there are, I’m sure, still some who simply don’t like the former vice president. Still a bit tetchy over that whole messy 2000 presidential election thing, perhaps–and the inconvenient truth that Mr. Gore did win the popular vote, some would probably have preferred he disappear from the public eye. Unfortunately winning an Oscar and a Nobel Peace Prize don’t do much to promote one’s fade into obscurity.

My wife’s initial take this morning was that the selection was ridiculous as the prize should honor someone who fights for human rights. I think my suggestion that one could make a case that a habitable planet could be considered a basic human right convinced her that the Nobel committee was probably on task in giving the issue of climate change some thought in considering this year’s winners.

The impact of the Nobel committee’s announcement on popular discourse aside, though, I’ll be looking to see how today’s news and the latest high profile attention given to the climate change issue  plays in the insurance industry. As I’ve noted previously in this space, it’s interesting to me that many in the industry have been willing to put aside political considerations in order to look objectively at the business considerations posed by climate change and the associated exposures.

Insurance industry companies and their trade groups have come forward in recent months to study the issue, offer “green” products, reduce their own carbon footprints and provide Web sites offering information on climate change. Today I got a release from risk modeler Risk Management Solutions Inc. calling the recognition of the IPCC’s efforts “deeply deserved” and congratulating Mr. Gore as well, and noting that Robert Muir-Wood, the company’s chief research officer, has contributed to the IPCC’s work.

It will be interesting to see whether this latest bit of attention to the climate change issue draws responses from other industry companies as well.


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