Insurance giant Swiss Re warned on Wednesday that the costs of natural disasters, aggravated by global warming, threaten to spiral out of control, forcing the human race into a catastrophe of its own making.
In a recent report, Swiss Re said the economic costs of such disasters threatened to double to $150 billion a year in 10 years, hitting insurers with $30 to 40 billion in claims.
“There is a danger that human intervention will accelerate and intensify natural climate changes to such a point that it will become impossible to adapt our socio-economic systems in time,” Swiss Re said. “The human race can lead itself into this climatic catastrophe—or it can avert it.”
The report comes as a growing number of policy experts warn that the environment is emerging as the security threat of the 21st century, eclipsing terrorism.
Losses to insurers from environmental events have risen exponentially over the past 30 years, and are expected to rise even more rapidly still, said Swiss Re climate expert Pamela Heck.
“Scientists tell us that certain extreme events are going to increase in intensity and frequency in the future,” Heck said. “Climate change is very much in the mind of the insurance industry.”