The Insurance Man Knows What Rick Perry Doesn't About Climate Change

Categories: Get Off My Lawn

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There is a point in the climate change debate where theory turns into money, and Rick Perry may help us all get to that point sooner.

It's a reality that hasn't had time to filter down to Main Street, but the people at the top of the money tree know all about it. It so happens that I write about it this week in my column, which is about flood control in Dallas.

The ultimate market discipline is the planet itself -- its limits. That discipline is translated back into our more prosaic Main Street markets through the medium of insurance -- well, re-insurance, to be more precise.

Whether he knows it or not (or cares), Perry is pushing right up against the pointed sword of re-insurance with his drill-baby-drill jobs policy, unveiled earlier this week in an op-ed column signed by Perry and published in the New Hampshire Union Leader.

The core of Perry's message is his campaign-trail mantra that climate change is a hoax and we need to abolish environmental laws and protections, starting with the shuttering of the EPA.

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"As President," he writes, "I would roll back the radical agenda of President Obama's job-killing Environmental Protection Agency. Our nation does not need costly new federal restrictions, especially during our present economic crisis. I would also oppose federal restrictions on natural gas production, including hydraulic fracturing, which is successfully regulated at the state level, and will deliver the energy needed to spark our economic recovery."

Perry says it's as easy as a stroke of the pen:

"Much of my plan can be accomplished by changing the occupant of the White House and removing the liberal, anti-job activists running regulatory agencies in Washington. With the stroke of a pen, I will initiate a review of all Obama-era regulations, begin a comment and review period, and work to eliminate onerous rules that kill jobs with little benefit to the environment."

There's sort of a hitch, though. This is the stuff I write about in my column on the Dallas Trinity River levee system. The lords of insurance -- the re-insurance industry -- disagree with Perry. In congressional testimony and elsewhere, the people who insure the insurance companies have been shoulder-to-shoulder with scientists and government agency executives explaining that the numbers add up, and they just don't lie. The frequency of extreme and destructive weather events is going up up up. The testimony is no longer merely that man has an effect on the weather; it's that there is no longer any weather that is "natural" or not driven by man-made factors.

That's something the insurance industry has to take into account. And they are. They are calculating the increase in claims that can be anticipated as a result of climate change.

Their challenges are not caused exclusively by climate change. They also are trying to make a calculation for cultures that are too dumb to understand and prepare for climate change, and will therefore continue to do things to make it worse, mainly through vulnerable construction and shoddy public works, but also by polluting. They have an informal term for it in German: Faktor K, where K is for Kultur.

Rick Perry's jobs plan is right in there. The idea that we can get rich by ripping down the weak environmental protections we have in place now is definitely Faktor K.

I like the way the insurance thing works. It's sort of like, "Oh, please, yes, do get rid of your environmental agency, and go right ahead and borrow tons of money to create more flooding and cancer. But for all of your business insurance, life insurance, medical insurance and property insurance, we're going to have to triple your rates. Possibly quadruple. Please don't be late with the payments, and we prefer cash."

Capitalism, in other words, works. It just doesn't work the way some of the people who call themselves capitalists want it to work.

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40 comments
scottindallas
scottindallas

Weak argument Jim. The insurance industry will opportunistically raise rates for any excuse it can sell others on. Perry has done nothing to constrain insurers, or their rates. So, though you make some good and fair points; your argument remains a non-sequitur.

Judd D. Bradbury
Judd D. Bradbury

Jim, "Independent Minded Dumb Person" that is editorial right? When people have different ideas than our own that does not make them dumb. Many of the ideas that come out of the left are offensive to hard working people and they cannot balance the checkbook. I don't call them dumb. I might say they are not well thought through but I avoiding painting with a very broad brush.

The Tea Party and the Occupiers have flaws and are off the mark sometimes, but they are hope for a new generation. The people of America are starting to smell what is wrong with Washington DC. They do not quite have a solid bead on it yet but that will come. I think the votes for moving the capital city to Kansas are growing.

The EPA has a lot of problems but they are not directly related to this story line. The story provides a good perspective on different views of an issue.

Amy S.
Amy S.

I love you Jim Schutze. Not as much as my husband, but more than Albert Payson Terhune.

matilda of tuscany
matilda of tuscany

Jim is doing exactly as he should--exposing the "miracle faker" for all his monied connections, lack of neural connections, and the shortened lives Perry's short sided policies would create. 

What we really need is an energy innovator to build solar factories here in Texas and put forth the same energy advertising the polluters have put forth--local jobs, reduce the cost of solar, and solve some of our energy crisis.

Paul
Paul

"Next time I tell you not to vote for a governor from Texas for President, will you listen to me?"  -- Molly Ivins

Observist
Observist

Damn knee-jerk tree-hugging pierced-face hippy-stinking insurance actuaries.

SteveT
SteveT

I am 58 years old, born and raised in Texas (and in some ways, conservative), but I just don't get the kind of irrational, short-term thinking that Perry represents.  It's so clearly a warped view of not only science but American history--sort of a "God loves Americans (Texans, especially) so much that he will suspend the laws of physics to make sure we continue to live as we have the past 60 years--it's our right"--this isn't even a proper view of grace.  

Kim Triolo Feil
Kim Triolo Feil

During the recent times when we were having black outs or threatening blackouts, it was  W I N D  E N E R G Y that bailed us out and stepped up and made the difference!  Also when we do have power outages...the electric compressor stations go down and back up pressure into our sweet lil urban drillsites and emission events occur. There was two on April 12 2011, one at Sublett and 360 and one in Dalworthington Gardens(DWG). That DWG, XTO/Exxon drillsite has seen at least 4 emission events correlating with bad weather just in 2011. On a side note an XTO employee told me that every 3,000 hours a pint of methanol is used in the piping as a corrision inhibitor...methanol is safe...right...N O T !  Just ask his wife who hates teh smell of his clothing when he comes home from work and just ask their teenage daughter suffering with brain legions.

Bubba
Bubba

T. Boone Pickens says it best. "Importing Oil is Exporting Wealth" but he also knows there is not enough Oil left to make a difference so he knows the Drill Baby drill crowd is wasting our time. The real solution is use what we have Natural Gas (150 year reserve), and Wind which has a potential exceeding our current demands if the resource would just be developed.

Thelisma Partridge
Thelisma Partridge

Drill-Baby-Drill  is sooo last year.

Perry's new mantra will be known as Drill-Bubba-Drill.

Montemalone
Montemalone

Obama's EPA?

I believe it was Nixon that brought the EPA into existence. The criminal repub president.

PlanoDave
PlanoDave

Jim,

If you have this much of a hard-on for Rick Perry, the Primary Candidate, your head is going to explode if he wins the Nomination.

With all the stuff about JWP, you said "we have to wait and see".  Why don't you take some of you same advice on Mr. Perry and wait and see if he gets the nomination.  THEN you can dedicate 2/3 of your waking hours in your obvious attempts to discredit him.

Heywood U Buzzoff
Heywood U Buzzoff

JimS -- Hope fully when the Occupy Dallas zombies get hungry and decide to eat the rich, they will follow EPA and Health regulations fully, including insurance coverage!

Darrd2010
Darrd2010

Can't wait to hear Rick's environmental plans later today.

Little Miss Clarification
Little Miss Clarification

The post paints a picture where climate change is the primary driver of insurance hikes and other factors are secondary when in reality the primary factor of the rate increases is heavy population shifts into already vulnerable areas and the habitation of those areas in deficient infrastructure. Climate change is recognized by the industry as a factor but not as the primary driver of increased rates.

John2247
John2247

Don't forget the liberals over at the Pentagon who are pushing alternative energy.

scottindallas
scottindallas

Wind is a useless power source. It doesn't blow when the "cap" drives temps into the triple digits. I like the idea of green energy, but not green boondoggles.

Paul
Paul

Brain Legions?  Is that anything like Roman Legions?

She hates the smell of his clothing? ... How well does she like the paycheck?

Wouldn't wish the brain lesions on anyone, but please explain how this correlates to the well drilling activity?

GusMitchem
GusMitchem

$100 Billion a year of NG was forcasted to be imported before the shale technology got going, I dont think too many people understand how much that is, and how much we have to have cheap energy. Unless that is you live down by the river and make your clothes from grass 

Bubba
Bubba

What is really interesting is that T.Boone Pickens has repeatedly said "Go Ahead drill it's not going to enough to solve our problems" The Pickens Plan may not be perfect in that it does use a fossil fuel even if it is a very clean one Natural gas, but the Solar & Wind parts of it will make a huge difference if anyone in Washington would listen. The US is the Saudi Arabia of natural gas, and wind energy. why isn't our energy plans being shifted toward these fuels. Solar could contribute significantly in the future as well given certain locations are better suited than other just like wind. The key is a newer smart electrical grid that can move power around from where it is generated to where it is consumed more efficiently. None of this is even being discussed by the Drill Baby Drill crowd. I trust T. Boone Pickens knows more about this subject than Sarah Palin who coined the phrase back in the 2008 elections.

Derrick White
Derrick White

Not sure why he should.  Perry is still the governor of our state.  Everything he does i pretty relevant.  

Bubba
Bubba

It won't take much to discredit Rick Perry as anyone with half a brain would know. Just read his book, that's all you have to do! LOL ! Just look at the shambles education is in, where 150 School Districts are filing a lawsuit over the $4B cut in the Education Budget so he could claim he balanced the budget even if we were already 46th in the nation.

Rick Perry pretty much lies every time he opens his mouth, and if you can't see that you're a fool. Have you forgotten the $440M being spent on new science books that have the bible inserted in them ? Rick Perry is an insult and embarrassment to every Texan with an I.Q. over 85. he was a "C" student just like "W" and look out how well that turned out of have your conveniently forgotten those eight years.

DuckDuckGoose
DuckDuckGoose

2/3 of our waking hours? No ...

It'll only take a few people 2 hours to research Gov Perrys public statements and actions while in office.  That's enough to describe what he's said and done.

Discredit? That's a judgement call.  Let the facts be published and people can judge, and vote, based on those.

Bubba
Bubba

You might want to go to the "internets" and search terms like "Cancer Clusters" "Lover Canal" , or EPA Super sites before you show your ignorance of why it was necessary to establish the EPA. If you are a Big Business Moron you already know why there is an EPA to lower you profits by making you act responsibly instead of dumping toxic waste in to our public water supply.

Bubba
Bubba

we pretty much know his plans by his history. Rick perry has constantly done what he wanted, and went around EPA rules like the flexible permitting program loophole he used to permit 13 more older generation coal plants because the CEO of then TXU said the newer Clean Coal Plants were unreliable even if the first four ordered went to China sort of contradicted this. The fact TXU was sold for a record amount just days later never made the news that there might have been collusion. The 4 coal plants that went offline last winter causing blackouts were some of these, and since the Texas Public Utility Comm. had been replaced by a Free Market system favored by ERCOT no one had oversight responsibility, and no penalties were given. to make matters worse they didn't have records reflecting which circuits supplied the power to the Natural gas Pumping stations so even the Natural gas was unreliable during that time period.

I just can't wait either to see what kind of circle jerk Perry proposes since his idea called ERCOT was a glorious failure.

Jim Schutze
Jim Schutze

You're right, Miss Clarification. If I gave the impression that Climate Change or Faktor K are the only things or even the main things driving rates, I gave the wrong impression. All of the old tradtional factors are still in place. But the new ones driven by climate change  are sufficiently significant at the margins to be driving important federal policy, with regard, for example, to flood control. The feds are sneaking up on a moment when they will dial back their own flood control responsibilities in ways that will not only radicallly impact future development patterns but will seriously devalue a lot of existing property.

Bubba
Bubba

Just wait and see how the population shifts after the climate changes enough to make coastal living very hazardous.

scottindallas
scottindallas

T Boone has never uttered a word that wasn't self serving. Wind power works less than 12% of the time--meaning we have to have redundant natural gas power on stand-by.

Solar offers a more reliable and vastly greater energy source. But, don't be fooled by T Boone, all his lobbying got him $5 billion on power lines from the gov't.

PlanoDave
PlanoDave

Your techniques of using statements like "if you can't see that you're a fool", and "embarrassment to every Texas with an I.Q. over 85" tell me that you don't actually have a very solid understanding of the issues at play, the possible alternatives, the motives and opportunities behind them and the associated risks.

Let me ask you this: Do you truly believe that Mr. Perry gets up every morning with the thought of "Hmmmmm, how am I going to fuck things up today and screw people over?"

If you don't believe that, they you are saying that you disagree with Mr. Perry's choices and perhaps his motivations, but at that point, you have to actually articulate an intelligent thought, and that is hard work.

Sybils_Beaver
Sybils_Beaver

they said the same thing about Obama and all the crooks he rolled with and look what happened.  They are all garbage, liars, business men who get paid by the establishment to protect the establishment and eventually become the establishment.  No matter how grass roots or different a politician starts he, he always ends up in the same place doing the same as the people before him, its either that or you get left out of the inner circle

Jim Schutze
Jim Schutze

but also: The insurance industry I'm sure has paid some goofball p.r. person a million dollars to tell them how to do what they have to do insurance-wise but keep themselves out of the middle of the climate change debate p.r.-wise. I can promise you whatever they paid was money wasted.  

GusMitchem
GusMitchem

Yes, I have already purchased my retirement land on the South Side of San Antonio. The beach will be mine soon enough and at a huge discount

scottindallas
scottindallas

that is a good question.  GE makes many of those turbines, I bet you'll find tax policy and other incentives driving that.  Solar is improving all the time, where as wind power is limited and the advances are far more incremental.

GusMitchem
GusMitchem

So your agruing that the sun shining is more efficient than the wind blowing, I see turbines eveywhere and very few photovoltaics

RTGolden
RTGolden

You know, I'm no fan of the Tea Party movement.  I am a libertarian, just not overly enamored with the idea of letting the Republican party co-opt my vote or my mind.  However, I see the news coverage of Tea Party events, and of Occupy crowds, and you know what I notice?  They could be recycling each others' signs.  They are both protesting the same things, and asking for different solutions.  To call one side dumb is to imply the other is as well.

Randy S
Randy S

Scarily, that's EXACTLY what I think Perry's first thoughts are every morning! Because I can't believe someone could do the things he does just randomly.

Jim Schutze
Jim Schutze

I think you're right, and I think the Bush country club Republicans fear and loathe him, because 1) He'll do anything, but, 2) he won't do what they tell him to do. He's a Palin -- an independent-minded dumb person. That, of course, makes him a hero to the independent-minded dumb person movement,  otherwise known as the Tea Party.

Bill Holston
Bill Holston

i think Perry is like every other politician from both parties, who get up every morning and think, 'what do I have to say to get elected and keep this great job/housing/insurance.' This idea of flip flopping implies they ever believe the stuff they say. 

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