Speaking with CNBC on a Squawk Box interview, Warren Buffett said that the effects of global warming had little impact on the businesses he has invested in and to the contrary, he finds them to be as profitable as ever. According to many media reports, he has not only denied that extreme weather conditions were related to global warming, but also has rebuked an important talking point of the Obama presidency. By doing this, in essence he has been interpreted to dispel what many in the conservative circles deem as the ‘liberal myth of climate change.’
Sections of the conservative media in their reportage of the CNBC interview, seem to be eager to draw in Warren Buffett, as a potential ally to their cause.His presence would be a powerful endorsement for the ever polarizing right-wing American political quest which is to essentially deny the overwhelming amount of scientific data that substantiates climate change. Mr. Buffett, who is probably the most famous wizard of finance and one of the world’s richest men, would be a great catch to what is essentially a lost cause. This is because nowhere in the world is the concept of climate change, from its very existence to its lasting effect of detrimental environmental change such a debatable political talking point as it is in America.
First, the facts must be stated. For instance, in his much quoted interview with CNBC, Warren Buffett was simply referring to the global warming effects on the insurance business which have been very profitable. As CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, he owns several insurance companies. In his assessment, climate change has had a negligent effect on the insurance market and premiums are not set to increase within the next three to five years. Contrary to popular belief, over the past five years the U.S has been relatively free from devastating hurricanes and there have only been slightly more tornadoes.
Profits from his insurance and reinsurance companies have helped Warren Buffett and Berkshire group earn more than $19.48 billion from $182.15 billion in revenues in 2013, which is a record amount. This is a significant increase from 2012 figures. In his interview he pointed out that with all the media buzz about climate change, people tend to associate it with a root cause for every natural disaster that has occurred within the last ten years. However, people tend to forget that there were plenty of such incidents 30,40 or even 50 years ago.
Previously, in 2009, Warren Buffett had written an OpEd for the New York Times about the devastating effects of increasing levels of carbon dioxide. Conservative media analysts also seem to forget that the Berkshire Hathaway group is also one of the world’s largest investors in renewable energy. Mr.Buffett, in his interview was simply heeding to the fact that he does not calculate risk in any different manner because of climate change. Scientists on the other hand have not made claims about how climate change was the sole cause for all the recent natural disasters. They have been quick to remind us how these catastrophes may become more severe and how in addition to hurricanes we have to worry about floods and acute drought. In this respect, Warren Buffett finds that global warming is not a cause that shall hinder how profitable the Berkshire Hathaway group will be.
By Unni K. Nair