Location: Wrentham, MA
Biting bugs are buzzing northward and asthma has spread like a dust cloud, but there are deep divisions about how concerned health and life insurers should be about disease and death caused by climate change.
So far, this corner of the massive industry has remained in the background of its climate debate, letting its counterparts who specialize in property losses worry in public forums about potential risks from rising sea levels and more powerful storms.
But there can be storms inside the human body, as well, scientists say, pointing to increases in malaria, heat waves, lung illnesses and other diseases spread by insects that are expanding into new territory as temperate climates experience warmer winters that are less likely to kill them.
The insects' spread could be a signal of new risks that are coming, says Paul Epstein, a doctor at Harvard Medical School who studies the health effects of rising greenhouse gas emissions.
"Beetles, stinging insects, mosquitoes
are all responding much faster [than expected]. That's the kind of leading indicator in terms of health costs that should be looked at by the health insurers," he said. "The life and health folks have really not taken this seriously yet."
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