Scientists have been unable to spur the nation into accelerating actions necessary to stop the devastation from climate change. Insurance companies may have better luck.

Insurance companies make money by calculating risk—the likelihood of fires and floods destroying buildings, of drivers getting into accidents, of thieves breaking into homes and of people dying. Then, they invite everyone to step up and share the risk by buying insurance.

However, insurance companies are private entities. They are not obligated to cover every risk. They know unpredictable and unprofitable risks when they see them—war, tsunamis and earthquakes.

The last decade has shown them that insuring homes, vehicles and businesses against the ravages of climate change is costly, and the costs are increasing.

Once climate change gets the attention of the insurance industry—and Wall Street—action could come quickly.

Without insurance, no one can get a loan to buy a house. No business can operate with confidence.

Without insurance against unforeseen damage, the nation’s economy would become precarious. Financial frostbite would slow business startups. Banks would be loath to extend loans to customers to purchase properties or operate businesses. The global economy would slow to a crawl.

Devastation is piling up. The second town in two years just burned to the ground in California. Heat domes and water shortages have hammered Western agriculture.

America’s leaders can brush off scientists. They won’t be able to ignore insurance companies upon whom the nation’s economic security relies.

“Our View” represents the opinion of the newspaper editorial board, which is made up of members of its board of directors. Remarks may be directed to

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