The Coming War of Florida and Alaska: Choices of a Hotter Planet

Florida and Alaska are at war, and neither knows it. But they embody the coming conflict over global warming that will have clear winners and losers. Florida is now becoming un-insurable.

…a series of studies have made it clear that if the Big One or even a Pretty Big One strikes, Florida is going to have very serious problems. The state-run insurance firm and the Catastrophe Fund have just a few billion dollars on hand, so a major storm would force both entities to float massive bond issues in an unfavorable market, and to make up their shortfalls through gigantic assessments on policyholders. A House committee recently warned that the state would have “extreme difficulty paying its obligations” after a 100-year storm, and that premiums on nearly every property, car and business could skyrocket. A report for the state Office of Insurance Regulation found that even a 50-year storm would cause extreme financial stress, especially given the current credit crunch.

Florida has 25% of the property of the entire United States that is high risk. This is no accident. It is the only large piece of the United States that is surrounded on three sides by angry seas, seas that have become too large, bloated, hot, and stormy due to our use of fossil fuels.

Insurers doubt they can cope with another major catastrophe in Florida. Once again the federal government is stepping in, laden with $407 billion in debt already, as it underwrites the un-insurable. When catastrophe finally hits Florida, and they finally see the connection of stronger storms and global warming that virtually all models predict, I wonder whether they will still be evenly divided between a political party that stands for gas guzzling, and a party that, albeit sheepishly, is moving toward environmental responsibility.

But Sarah Palin marches toward the White House singing ‘Drill, baby, drill’. Of course this is good for Alaska, a boon, but disastrous for the rest of the world, and especially for Florida. I wish that Floridians, before November 4, would wake up and smell the storm surge at their front lawns.

Hurricane Andrew
Hurricane Andrew
© Marc Gopin