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Thursday, August 7, 2014

How Can Businesses Climate-Proof Themselves?

Pictured is a wind test demonstration by the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety, that subjected two full-scale houses to thunderstorm and straight-line wind conditions common in the Midwest. The homes are essentially the same, except that the house on the right was built to the IBHS FORTIFIED for Safer Living® standard for Midwest construction. (Scott Iskowitz/Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety)

Pictured is a wind test demonstration by the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety, that subjected two full-scale houses to thunderstorm and straight-line wind conditions common in the Midwest. The homes are essentially the same, except that the house on the right was built to the IBHS FORTIFIED for Safer Living® standard for Midwest construction. (Scott Iskowitz/Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety)

According to the Insurance Information Institute, three of the top six years for catastrophic insurance losses — topping $142 billion — have taken place since 2005, and scientists agree that climate change has played a major role.

Hurricanes like Katrina and Sandy come to mind, as do myriads of fires, droughts and floods. The costs are huge and businesses are not waiting for Congress to take action — they’re doing everything they can to become climate resistant, if not climate-proof.

That means not only changing infrastructure, such as moving electric generators to higher floors, for example, but also understanding risk, knowing where your supplies come from and having a sense of potential problems in every region where the business operates.

Kyle Beatty is president of Verisk Climate, a division of the New Jersey-based Verisk Analytics, which provides businesses with guidance that can help mitigate the consequences of severe weather events.

As he told Here & Now’s Robin Young, “the challenge often is to take the recognition that [weather is] an issue, and be able to put it into a practice that someone can rely upon day in and day out.”

Interview Highlights

On using data from the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety

“From our standpoint, that kind of information is good evidence as to what can happen to a building and it’s also very important visual indicators of how severe a hurricane can be, or a wildfire, or a hailstorm, or any one of these natural events when you see firsthand how it affects a building. So when we come with a point of view around how likely that is to take place, this also helps us to then translate it into what does it mean in terms of how likely it is to create damage, and then downstream business impacts like an interruption to one’s operations.”

On his personal views about climate change

“Quite often in a conversation like this, someone might ask me what my position is on climate change. Actually the way I think of that is: I personally don’t have a position — it’s really what the objective data indicates that allows us to understand what are the effects of these events when they happen, and what do we know about how likely they are? The goal is to be independent and objective, transparent around the science, and that’s what we find companies really appreciate is not just knowing what we know. It’s knowing what we don’t know.”

Guest


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  • Rick

    LOL….. severe weather events have always existed and always will. And yes, that includes hurricanes.
    Meanwhile, back at the ranch…most of the United States had the coldest winter in decades and a very mild summer. Not a single major heat wave this summer. Meanwhile, NPR keeps beating the drum of the “climate change” alarmists. Not a single story or interview, ever, of the many legitimate scientists who are skeptical of the alarmists, unless it is to mock them.

    • Margaret Gooding

      I agree completely. There is no scientific evidence of global warming whatsoever (and no, models using questionable data do not count as real science). There has been no increase in temperatures for the last 18 years… If you want some real science information check out Watt’s Up with That http://wattsupwiththat.com/.

    • Carpetbagger

      For those of us in the Southwest, experiencing the weirdest, hottest, windiest summer in a lot of years, if ever, and now a monsoon season, it’s not “LOL”. Ask folks in Baja California Sur where I have a home, how they feel about the temps this summer. Nobody’s laughing there, either.

      • Rick

        You live in an over-populated dessert. If you don’t like it then move somewhere else.

    • Doug

      I believe what your talking about here is weather – not climate. Just because it’s cold today, or even this year for that matter, doesn’t disprove the fact that the planet is warming, climate is changing, and the effects are real. Perhaps your opinion is so underrepresented because there are actual facts. 97% of climate scientists agree – this is not a debate anymore. http://climate.nasa.gov/scientific-consensus/

      • Rick

        Hey guess what Doug. .. what Robin and her guest were talking about was weather, too!

  • andyk1985

    I hate to disappoint the author of this nice piece of fiction, but they no longer claim that global warming is causing more frequent or more severe extreme weather. That particular piece of fiction was taken out of the most recent IPCC report, primarily because a 5th grader can look at the history of extreme events and see that there is no trend. Now, as any high school or college student could tell you, as inflation goes up and more people move into areas such as coastline that are more susceptible to extreme events, the cost of the extreme events will go up regardless of frequency or severity. NPR would have a lot more credibility in the climate change/global warming/global weirding area if they would take the time to actually investigate claims made on their shows instead of simply repeating the most alarmist lies as facts.

    • ocdhickson

      But if NPR doesn’t perpetuate the myth how are they going to convince citizens to push their governments to redistribute wealth to poor countries to help them mitigate the awful effects of normal weather patterns?

      Time to call in climate non-scientist Bill Nye again.

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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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