GCE & Student Activities

Fireside Evening Series: Munich RE with Dr. Faust

About the GCE Fireside Evening Series

The Global Change Ecology M.Sc is not only about lectures and exams, spending all day in the lecture hall and all night in the library, writing long papers about complicated scientific issues. It is also about events and initiatives outside the University of Bayreuth such as scientific conferences, networking opportunities and social events, many of them organized by the GCE student board or students themselves.

One of those is a New Series of Fireside Evenings, where GCE students have the possibility to meet and talk to representatives from private, public and academic sector devoted to Global and Climate Change issues. This is a good chance for GCE M.Sc  students to learn more about the working life and employment opportunities in those fields.

MunichRE by Dr. Faust 


Presentation by Dr. Eberhard Faust. Credits: Anna-Lena Hendel

(July 21, 2017) Our first speaker at the fireside events is Dr. Eberhard Faust, head of the Climate Risks and Natural Hazards Research Department at Munich RE. Dr. Faust has not only studied at the University of Bayreuth himself, he was also initially involved in creating the GCE masters program and even taught some GCE courses in the beginning. Fortunately he consented therefore to come to Bayreuth to give a talk about his career and his current work and also to meet up with the students in a beer garden afterwards, to have a more informal exchange.

Talking about his work, Dr. Faust highlighted in his presentation how a reinsurance  calculates Climate Change risks, i.e. extreme events such as heavy rainfall, flood events and prolonged droughts – which are expected to multiply within the next two decades.

To be able to predict whether damage costs are likely to rise in the future, it is necessary to have a look at the development of damage costs over the last 50 years. Are they stable? Are they rising?

Dr. Fausts graphs show rapid increases in costs. Do they mean that climate change is already increasing risks and damages? Not necessarily. He explains that there are other socioeconomic factors to be considered such as inflation and the fact that people now own more things than before.

When there are ten houses next to a river, the total flood damage is naturally higher than if there was only one house.

Even though there are globally no statistically significant signs (yet) that climate change is the cause of the rising damage costs, it most certainly will be an additional stress factor in the future. Especially on a local scale where extreme events already occur more often. To gain an overview on the development of natural risks and hazards the MunichRE NATHAN (Natural Hazards Assessment Network) tool help map the worldwide occurence of extreme events, such as floodings or wildfires. Using NATHAN, Dr. Faust’s department calculates a local risk of damage, a risk which is already damatically increasing in some parts of the world.

After the official part the students have the opportunity to ask Dr. Faust questions about his work, studies and ask for career advices. Dr. Faust answers all of them patiently, it is an exchange on both sides, about experiences and ideas. Specially when being questioned about the connection between his work at Munich RE and theology, Dr. Faust answers with a grin: ¨This is an excellent question to discuss over a cool beer!¨

The GCE Student Board and all participants of the 1st Fireside Evening would like to thank Dr. Faust for his time and committment! We had a very interesting and informative evening and would be happy to be able to welcome him in Bayreuth again!

GCE students and Dr. Faust exchanging ideas about career and studies (Bayreuth, 21.7.17). Credits: Anna-Lena Hendel.

About Dr. Faust
Dr. Faust has a degree in Geoecology as well as in Protestant Theology, two disciplines that do not seem to have a lot in common at first sight. However, Dr. Faust is sure the knowledge and methodology he accumulated during his theological studies benefits also his current work at Munich Re and his credo ¨Everything is interrelated¨ is a key message in both disciplines. But how does a Geoecologist/Theologist end up working for one of the biggest reinsurances in the world?

Dr. Faust was always interested in modeling and knowing that huge reinsurances would be most likely be affected by climate change, he sent an application to Munich Re. However, the personnel manager was at first not really interested in hiring someone, whose PhD Thesis was about trees. But Dr. Faust did not give up. He wanted to know more about what Munich Re was doing in the field of climate change and they invited him for a talk. A presentation and many questions later Munich Re realized that they actually needed someone, who could do the modelling for certain cenarios. Someone like Dr. Faust. Even though he just got a temporary contract, he gained a foothold in the company. In the end he managed to become head of the Climate Risk Research Department. ¨And that is¨ says Dr. Faust, ¨why you should never give up to soon!¨

About Munich RE
Munich Re is one of the leading reinsurances with worldwide locations. As they insure other insurances, they need to consider rising damage costs due to climate change. The Climate Risk and Natural Hazards Research Department is calculating these risks and the costs that are consequentially arising.

Further reading:

  • https://www.munichre.com/en/homepage/index.html
  • https://www.munichre.com/topics-online/en/2014/07/portrait
  • https://technosphere-magazine.hkw.de/article1/f659d7e0-67c9-11e7-a87a-65c6512521d3
  • www.munichre.com/de/reinsurance/business/non-life/nathan/index.html
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