Sandy served as a wake up call to business leaders, as it highlighted how grossly unprepared they are in the face of climate change related disasters. In the Midwest, floods and wildfires in recent years have also impacted the business supply chain, costing untold millions worth of economic activity.
But many within the business community understood what was happening, and what it means for the future of business. They know that, at the end of the day, climate change is bad for business.
The concept of a climate disruption tax is actually hugely important. Why? Because climate change is costing us more than trying to avoid climate change ever would, but unfortunately, this troubling little bit of economics is somehow constantly overlooked in the climate debates. We always hear about how much it will cost to transition away from fossil fuels and to slow deforestation. But the costs of inaction rarely stick in the discussion.
These studies and reports are written about, blogged, tweeted, and sometimes cited, but they haven’t managed to nudge their way into the mainstream climate conversation. The costs often seem too far off, too theoretical–a problem for another time.
Which is why any clever new way of framing climate-related costs should be celebrated and spread far and why. Over on Switchboard, Lashof and Stevenson are onto something.
While politicians in America have been slow to react to both the threat of climate change and the need for expanded renewable energy resources, the American public has made their priorities clear: Give us clean energy that protects our health, our environment, and our resources.
The world’s largest insurers are tallying the costs of climate inaction, and the numbers are staggering.
Swiss Re announced recently that total economic losses in 2012 from “natural catastrophes and man-made disasters” – primarily weather events – should reach roughly $140 billion. Over 11,000 lives were lost due to the so-called “natural catastrophes” alone.
“Hurricane Sandy is the largest Atlantic hurricane on record in terms of wind span. This record storm surge caused widespread flooding and damage to a densely populated area on the East Coast of the U.S. It also led to the worst power outage caused by a natural catastrophe in the history of the U.S.”
Ranking members of the House Committees on Natural Resources and on Energy and Climate released a joint report earlier this week that traces the imprints of climate change on recent extreme weather patterns.
With Going to Extremes: Climate Change and the Increasing Risk of Weather Disasters (pdf), Representatives Ed Markey (D-MA) and Henry Waxman (D-CA) continue to forge ahead in their roles as the most outspoken and honest members of the House when it comes to climate change. Unfortunately, they stand alone even in the critical committees on which they sit: the report includes a front page disclaimer that it “has not been officially adopted by the Committee on Natural Resources or the Committee on Energy and Commerce and may not necessarily reflect the views of its Members.”
“This is what global warming looks like at the regional or personal level. The extra heat increases the odds of worse heat waves, droughts, storms and wildfire. This is certainly what I and many other climate scientists have been warning about.”
It then proceeds to catalog the worst of the devastating weather trends of late, connecting the dots between these impacts and the greenhouse effect.
I'd expected to hear more about these extreme weather events in the news, and in my ideal world, they'd even include a little context about why they were happening. But nearly all the news and weather reports I watched said the same thing:
In response, I collaborated with my friend Kai Nagata on creating some smart, eco and socially conscious web videos. As you can imagine, I found our first one, 'WeatherGirl Goes Rogue', very therapeutic:
Large portions of the U.S. are on fire. Record droughts currently encompass massive swaths of America. The areas not experiencing droughts have been inundated with flooding. Winter weather in many areas was almost non-existent. A few years ago, an Academy Award-winning film called “An Inconvenient Truth” warned wary Americans that all of these events would become the new normal due to climate change. But these are no longer warnings – this is the reality that we’re living in now.
It is becoming increasingly more difficult to ignore the evidence of extreme weather that surrounds all of us. And it isn’t just the United States. Every corner of the globe is experiencing the direct effects of climate change in some form or fashion. And again, we were warned that all of this was going to happen.
My hometown of Gulf Breeze, Florida feels like it's been a petri dish for climate change disaster stories. In the past month, we’ve had two separate droughts that were both ended by flash flooding. In between these events, we avoided a hit from pre-season tropical storm Debby, which turned eastward and drenched central Florida with torrential rains. Last weekend we had a heat index of 112 degrees, and I awoke this morning (again, after weeks of drought) to find half of my yard underwater due to coastal flooding.
In the U.S., the reality of climate change has certainly been an eye opener for many Americans.
Do you get your climate science from your weatherman? If so, you might be the dupe of an ongoing anti-science campaign, played out by some of national television’s most recognizable TV weathercasters – more than half of whom are climate change deniers.
Forecast the Facts, lead by 350.org, the League of Conservation Voters, and the new Citizen Engagement Lab, is tracking anti-science ideologues – or ‘zombie weathermen’ – as part of a new campaign to expose ‘meteorologists blowing hot air.’ Forecast the Facts reveals many of these trusted weather reporters are little more than right-wing spokesmen, feeding the American public shoddy climate science denial.
As part of the campaign, Forecast asked the AMS to beef up their climate change statement – a position statement up for review on February 1, 2012. America’s weather reporters rely on AMS information more than any other source, including climate researchers, making the institution’s stance particularly relevant to the meteorological body at large. But the AMS has so far put off updating their statement.
According to a Forecast press release, circulated today, Forecast’s request for an undiluted statement on climate change has created significant upheaval within the AMS, causing some members of the drafting committee to threaten resignation.
Great brief in Time Magazine discussing the difference between ‘weather’ and ‘climate’. A common denier argument is to point outside and suggest that the cold weather obviously means that climate change isn’t happening.
But as Time points out, the unseasonably cold 2008 will still rank in the top 10 hottest years since climate record taking was started. Consider it homework for the holidays.
In the feature, Peter Stott of the Met Office’s Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research states:
“As you get a warming trend in temperatures, which is what we are observing, the risk of exceeding extreme temperatures increases dramatically.”
“This is what we saw with the European heatwave of 2003. When we analysed it, we found that the rise in average temperatures over the previous century of about one degree had doubled the risk of an extreme event like the heatwave of that year.
“And, as we go into the future, the risk of what was quite a rare event rises dramatically. We think by 2040, a summer like 2003 will be a regular event; the chances of it happening will increase from one in 250 all the way to one in two.” He added: “We have an increasing amount of confidence that we are observing rising temperatures caused by human-induced rising greenhouse-gas concentrations. Unless the world changes what it is doing, we are going to see these extreme temperatures very much more.”
Predictably, this will all be brushed aside by the skeptics as “alarmist” and anecdotal.
Democracy is utterly dependent upon an electorate that is accurately informed. In promoting climate change denial (and often denying their responsibility for doing so) industry has done more than endanger the environment. It has undermined democracy.
There is a vast difference between putting forth a point of view, honestly held, and intentionally sowing the seeds of confusion. Free speech does not include the right to deceive. Deception is not a point of view. And the right to disagree does not include a right to intentionally subvert the public awareness.