January 24, 2013

Is the media’s love affair with “extreme weather” just an elaborate insurance scam?

Terence Corcoran in the Financial Post:

All it takes these days is a little normal January Canadian cold spell and all of a sudden the nation is plunged into a frenzy of chatter about “extreme weather.” The CBC led the way, aided and abetted by climate alarmists in the Canadian insurance industry, with help from an apparently leaked data point from an Environment Canada report that supposedly will show that Canadian winters are now 3.2C warmer than they used to be. Get it? It’s really cold, but that’s because of climate change, which is making Canada’s winters warmer.

If you find this confusing, well, get used to it. That may even be part of the objective, which, judging by the sudden extreme flood of media reports, seems to be keep Canada’s population agitated about global warming, a cause that has so far failed to ignite voters.

If the theory of climate change doesn’t grab people, maybe “extreme weather” will. The media certainly love it. All News Radio in Toronto now has an “Extreme Weather Centre” that rouses itself every time weather happens — snow storms, cold spells, heat waves, rain, temperature anomalies. Alarmist weather forecasting and reporting is a media staple, but the concept now appears to have reached a new level of hypedom.

[. . .]

The insurance angle was cleverly juxtaposed with a leaked bit of data from an Environment Canada report that will not be released until May. It supposedly will show that Canadian winter temperatures have risen 3.2C since Canada began keeping systematic records in 1948. As a standalone bit of data, not much can be made of it. Even less can be made of it for popular consumption if current temperatures are approaching record cold. How can we have record warm and record cold at the same time?

That’s where “extreme weather” comes in. It’s also where the Canadian insurance industry, through a front group called the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction, is actively promoting extreme weather as a major vehicle for business and policy development. With offices in Toronto and the University of Western Ontario, the institute’s membership is almost exclusively insurance companies, its eight-member board is stacked with five insurance executives, and the executive director is Paul Kovacs, is former head of the Insurance Bureau of Canada.

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