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Publicly Subsidized Climate Change Insurance for Big Oil

“Whom the gods would destroy they first make mad”

— Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

My 14 August 2018 article, “Climate Change Bites Big Business”, described the now evident large financial impacts on Big Business caused by climate change, for example:

+ the bankrupting-level liabilities to one California electric utility company (PG&E) for causing massive wildfires in 2017,

+ the threat of similar future liabilities to the entire electric utility industry, especially in Western America,

+ huge losses to fire insurance companies in California during 2017-2018 (and similar possibilities wherever drought occurs in highly developed areas),

+ huge losses to flood, hurricane and tornado insurance companies, because of the more violent rain-and-wind storms of recent years (like Hurricane Sandy in 2012, and the hurricanes since),

+ the possible throttling of future commercial and real estate investment if insurance rates and bank loan interest rates increase sharply because wildfire and weather related destructive events are now permanently amplified by climate change.

In the article cited above, I concluded:

I think that the pretense of climate change denialism by the Big Money has crumbled, and we are now entering a period of overt climate change acknowledgment coupled with fanatical efforts to gain public subsidies for private interests to both insure and indemnify them against climate change-related financial losses, and to also preserve the nature of their businesses even if they are major CO2 and organic vapor polluters, like the petrochemical and coal companies.

Confirmation of the above conclusion is provided by The Associated Press article of 22 August 2018, “Big oil asks government to protect its Texas facilities from climate change”, which describes:

An ambitious proposal to build a nearly 60-mile ‘spine’ of concrete seawalls, earthen barriers, floating gates and steel levees on the Texas Gulf Coast… to shield some of the crown jewels of the petroleum industry, which is blamed for contributing to global warming and now wants the federal government to build safeguards against the consequences of it. The plan is focused on a stretch of coastline that runs from the Louisiana border to industrial enclaves south of Houston that are home to one of the world’s largest concentrations of petrochemical facilities, including most of Texas’ 30 refineries, which represent 30 percent of the nation’s refining capacity. Texas is seeking at least $12 billion for the full coastal spine, with nearly all of it coming from public funds. Last month, the government fast-tracked an initial $3.9 billion for three separate, smaller storm barrier projects that would specifically protect oil facilities.

Capitalism is a combustion engine that burns fossil fuels to churn out privatized financial wealth, government power (by fueling the military) and socialized waste heat and greenhouse gas pollution whose accumulation in Nature creates and accelerates global warming-induced climate change.

The bald fact of the oil industry seeking to have the public subsidize the protection of its facilities — and its profitability — from the natural climate-changing consequences of its own operations must rank as one the most colossal combinations of blind greed, chutzpah, cognitive dissonance and inertia during this Oil Age.

But, this is where we are today in our collective response (if you can call it that) to the advancing threats posed by climate change to organized human life.

More polemics are pointless, and our existing politics is madness.

Note.

The phrase “Whom the gods would destroy they first make mad” is spoken by Prometheus in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem “The Masque of Pandora” (1875).

More articles by:

Manuel Garcia, Jr, once a physicist, is now a lazy househusband who writes out his analyses of physical or societal problems or interactions. He can be reached at mangogarcia@att.net

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