Every responsible person carries insurance against all sorts of life's potential catastrophes. We don't think twice about buying health insurance, home insurance, car insurance, life insurance, liability insurance, and it goes on and on.
From a gambler's perspective, these are all sucker bets. Insurance companies make their big bucks by tipping the actuarial odds in their favor so that they can pay off far less in reimbursements than they receive in premiums.
We are willing to richly reward insurance companies in this way because they spread the risks across a large group. The individual pays the extra price to gain security and peace of mind. Which brings us to the two life or death questions now facing our species: Why we are failing to take out an insurance policy against global warming? Can we wise up before it is too late? The risks that we are causing and will suffer from a future environmental catastrophe couldn't be clearer. Atmospheric and oceanic carbon dioxide is rising at an alarming rate. Computer models predict drastic temperature and sea level changes with increasing certainty. The population explosion and the rapid growth in per capita consumption are together befouling our atmosphere and draining irreplaceable supplies of fossil water.
And the effects of global warming are likely already upon us. Year after year of record-setting world mean temperatures. Unprecedented droughts in California. Unprecedented rains in England. Atlanta colder in January than Anchorage. Supposedly once-in-a- hundred-year weather disasters happening every few years.