Sunday, April 21, 2013

American Taxpayers Paying the Price of Climate Change

Their Congressional representatives may dispute it, call it a hoax even, but the U.S. government is doling out big money in relief for those hit by climate change impacts.

According to environmental corporate watchdog, Ceres, crop insurance payouts for last year's drought cost every American man, woman and child $51.

“Climate change is fundamentally changing the United States, and American taxpayers are paying a huge price for it,” said Ceres president Mindy Lubber. “The cost of withered crops, submerged streets, hurricane damage and wildfires eventually comes out of our own wallets. Crop insurance losses from last year’s drought alone cost every person in America $51.”
Ceres compiled data showing rising costs to three federal programs, as well as growing financial exposure for state taxpayers in hurricane-prone states. Among the findings:

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is staggering under massive losses after Hurricane Sandy, which triggered more than 115,000 new claims in just the first two weeks after the storm. Although NFIP collects about $3.5 billion a year in premiums, the amount of claims the agency has paid out has exceeded the amount of premiums collected in four of the past eight years. Last year's losses in Sandy's wake are expected to approach $8 billion.

“That’s $25 for every American, and that figure doesn’t even include the $50 billion of disaster relief that Congress approved in January for Sandy-impacted states,” Lubber said.

Extreme weather, influenced by climate change, creates other taxpayer risks. State governments are increasingly liable for hurricane damages as private insurers pull out, leaving state taxpayers subsidizing insurance loss claims for homes and businesses.
The state insurer in Florida, for example, is carrying the burden of more than one million homeowners’ policies — a financial catastrophe just waiting for state taxpayers the next time a major hurricane hits Florida. State government-loss exposure in hurricane-prone states (such as Florida, Texas and Massachusetts) now exceeds $885 billion, a 16-fold jump from 1990.
“As Americans pay their taxes on April 15, let’s consider what our political leaders — in Washington and our state capitals — are doing to address climate change,” Lubber added. “Let's hope, for our wallets’ sakes, they're tackling the issue head-on.”

Americans recoil at the notion of big government and the imagined straight-to-hell evils of socialism except when they want or need it and then lofty principle flies straight out the window.  Insurers, the private sector, wants no part of these losses and that's when the people of the devastated areas, mainly the rightwing south, expect the government to spread their losses to the people elsewhere.  Hypocritical?   As Sarah Palin would say, "you betcha."

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