Sunday, February 01, 2015

Climate Change: Bottom Line.



                                                  Comments due by Feb. 8, 2015

It was 8 degrees in Minneapolis on a recent January day, and out on Interstate 394, snow whipped against the windshields of drivers on their morning commutes. But inside the offices of Cargill, the food conglomerate, Greg Page, the company’s executive chairman, felt compelled to talk about global warming. “It would be irresponsible not to contemplate it,” Mr. Page said, bundled up in a wool sport coat layered over a zip­up sweater. “I’m 63 years old, and I’ve grown up in the upper latitudes. I’ve seen too much change to presume we might not get more.” Mr. Page is not a typical environmental activist. He says he doesn’t know — or particularly care — whether human activity causes climate change. He doesn’t give much serious thought to apocalyptic predictions of unbearably hot summers and endless storms. But over the last nine months, he has lobbied members of Congress and urged farmers to take climate change seriously. He says that over the next 50 years, if nothing is done, crop yields in many states will most likely fall, the costs of cooling chicken farms will rise and floods will more frequently swamp the railroads that transport food in the United States. He wants American agribusiness to be ready. Mr. Page is a member of the Risky Business Project, an unusual collection of business and policy leaders determined to prepare American companies for climate change. It’s a prestigious club, counting a former senator, five former White House cabinet members, two former mayors and two billionaires in the group. The 10 men and women who serve on the governing committee don’t agree on much. Some are Democrats, some Republicans. Even when it comes to dealing with climate change, they have very different perspectives. Some advocate a national carbon tax, some want to mandate companies to disclose their climate risks. Mr. Page suggests that the world may be able to get by without any mandatory rules at all. Some members want to push investors to divest from fossil fuel companies. Several favor construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, while one member has spent more than $1 million lobbying to stop it. But they all do agree on one issue: Shifts in weather over the next few decades will most likely cost American companies hundreds of billions of dollars, and they have no choice but to adapt. The committee started in June as a way to promote a study that it commissioned, “Risky Business: The Economic Risks of Climate Change in the United States.” But it has since evolved into a loose network of missionaries who publicize the report’s ominous data far and wide, in talks at the Clinton Global Initiative conference, briefings with the American Farm Bureau Federation and breakfast meetings with local chambers of commerce. On Jan. 23, the group released the second chapter of the Risky Business project, focused on the effects on the Midwest: “Heat in the Heartland.” A report on California is next. With $1.7 million in grants from the MacArthur Foundation and others, the group is hiring a full­time staff. The group is led by three men: Tom Steyer, the hedge fund billionaire whose super PAC spent $73 million last year attacking Republicans who denied climate change and promoting awareness of the issue; Henry M. Paulson Jr., the former chief executive of Goldman Sachs and the Treasury secretary under President George W. Bush; and Michael R. Bloomberg, New York City’s former mayor and the billionaire founder of the financial information company Bloomberg L.P. Each spent $500,000 to commission the Risky Business research and each has his own particular goals for the initiative, all of which would be served by making the climate threat feel real, immediate and potentially devastating to the business world.Mr. Paulson wants companies to implement and regulators to enforce disclosure rules regarding climate risk and carbon emissions for publicly traded companies. Mr. Bloomberg views the work as a way to spur city governments and local businesses to work together on climate issues and not “kick the can down the road,” he said. Mr. Steyer sees the dollars­and­cents research as a way to neutralize conservatives’ arguments that environmental regulation always hurts business. “One side argues morality and polar bears, and the other side argues jobs,” Mr. Steyer said. “You’re never going to win with polar bears.” Embracing Adaptation To understand how the Risky Business Project came to be, it’s helpful to look at how the climate change battle has been waged over the years. In the early days, discussion was focused on fixing the problem and staving off disaster. This has been the strategy environmentalists have used to respond to all sorts of risks for years: Scientists identify the harm, publicize it, debate with the responsible industry and expect legislators to take action. The very idea of thinking about how to adapt to drastic environmental changes was basically considered taboo, an acknowledgment of defeat. “Earlier on, you wouldn’t use the ‘A’ word in polite conversation,” said Henry D. Jacoby, a professor at the Sloan School of Management at M.I.T. and a climate policy researcher — the “A” word being “adaptation.” “People thought you weren’t serious about mitigation. ‘Oh, you’re giving up.’ ” But climate change defied that playbook. There was no immediate crisis to point to — no bird eggs laced with DDT, no acid rain corroding city monuments. There was no one industry to target or overwhelming constituency to push legislators. “The rationalist, evidence­driven, faith in the political process approach to solving environmental problems has been really effective in many realms,” said Hal Harvey, who advised the Risky Business group and is chief executive of Energy Innovation, a green policy firm. “But it has done bupkis for climate change.” Indecision and indifference have prevailed instead. A majority of Americans in 2014 surveys by Pew Research and Gallup acknowledged climate change was happening, and 83 percent of Americans say that without emissions reductions, global warming will be a problem in the future, according to a January survey conducted by The New York Times, Stanford University and the environmental group Resources for the Future. But in survey after survey, those same Americans rank climate change at or near the bottom of pressing issues, far behind jobs, the economy and health care. In the meantime, powerful lobbies, including fossil fuel groups, the U. S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers, stand in the way of regulation. Climate change has become a partisan issue — a cause for conservatives who fear government overreach. It was in this context that in November 2012, Mr. Steyer convened a meeting at his Pescadero, Calif., ranch. The month before, he had stepped down from running his hedge fund, Farallon Capital Management, to devote himself to the environment. He wanted to devise a way to fight climate change more effectively, and he had assembled some highly regarded thinkers to help him brainstorm. Attendees included the environmentalists Bill McKibben and Mr. Harvey, and the political strategists John D. Podesta and Chris Lehane. As cattle grazed on native grasses outside, and a water­filtering ecosculpture burbled on the patio, the participants tossed ideas around the kitchen table. Mr. McKibben discussed his fossil fuel divestment campaign. Others suggested stoking a social media groundswell. One suggested making life hard for climate change­denying politicians (the latter idea became the basis for Mr. Steyer’s super PAC, NextGen Climate Action). While Mr. Steyer was devising his political strategy, the staff at Next Generation, his nonprofit group, were at work trying to solve another critical question: How do you make climate change feel real and immediate for people? Kate Gordon, senior vice president of Next Generation, Mr. Steyer’s nonprofit, whose mission focuses on climate change and improving the economic prospects of families, found inspiration in a British report called the Stern Review, published in 2006. It was an economic analysis, sponsored by the British government, which examined all the costs of climate change, eventually concluding that the price of curbing global warming paled compared with the costs of doing nothing. Ms. Gordon pitched Mr. Steyer on an American version — what would become the Risky Business report. It would be a way to discuss in a practical, dollars­and­cents way how businesses would have to adapt to climate change, while also making a clear case for taking action to mitigate the coming environmental crises. He liked what he heard. The team wanted to bulletproof the report, so that public discussion would not become a politicized debate about their methods or their messengers. So they contracted an economic research firm, the Rhodium Group. They also reached out to Mr. Paulson, a Republican, and Mr. Bloomberg, an independent, to see if they would co­sponsor the study and help form a bipartisan committee. Both agreed, and over the following summer and fall, the three enlisted other leaders through their personal networks. Mr. Paulson called Mr. Page, whom he knew from the Latin America Conservation Council. Through a contact of Ms. Gordon’s, they signed up Henry G. Cisneros, the former housing and urban development secretary under President Bill Clinton and now a real estate developer. Mr. Steyer called Robert E. Rubin, the former secretary of the Treasury under President Clinton and a longtime friend and mentor from their days at Goldman Sachs. For some, like Mr. Cisneros, it was the first public involvement with climate change. For Mr. Rubin, it marked a change in perspective. During his time in the Clinton administration, the Treasury Department argued the aggressive emissions reductions proposed in the Kyoto Protocol would harm the economy. Mr. Rubin wouldn’t make that argument now. “I think it’s the existential threat of our day,” he said. “Once you see it as having catastrophic impact, any economic argument follows that, because you’re not going to have an economy.” Mr. Page’s involvement with the committee was the subject of “a fairly energetic debate” within Cargill, he said. In the end, he decided to participate because the study was an analysis of potential outcomes, not one that purported to make concrete predictions or specific policy recommendations. He also figured it would be best to be involved in any report that planned to say something about his industry, especially one with such prominent backers. He didn’t want them “using the Risky Business report to terrify the U.S. population about its food supply,” he said. Cargill “hasn’t weighed in” on the regulatory debate, Mr. Page said, because the company prefers to examine rules case by case. (“Is cap­and­trade per se bad? No. Is the way it was administered in Europe ineffective? Absolutely,” he said). Unlike other committee members, he seems to favor voluntary commitments to reduce greenhouse gases. Generally, the company is opposed to any regulation that will force it to shut plants, retire equipment or otherwise “destroy fixed capital,” he said. In May 2014, the committee members gathered at the Bloomberg Philanthropies offices in Manhattan to hear two of the authors commissioned by the Rhodium Group — Robert E. Kopp, a climate scientist at Rutgers University, and Solomon M. Hsiang, an economic policy researcher at the University of California, Berkeley — present their findings. Among their conclusions if the status quo persisted: Climate change would increase energy demand in Texas by between 3.4 and 9.2 percent by midcentury. Crop yields in Missouri and Illinois would face a 15 percent decline over the next 25 years. And in the Northeast, annual property damage from severe storms — from hurricanes to blizzards — would likely increase $11.1 billion, to a total of $15.8 billion by the end of the century. Of all the members, Mr. Rubin is most preoccupied with the so­called tail risks — low­probability events where the most damage is done. Mr. Page, on the other hand, prefers to prepare for the most likely outcomes. At the meeting in May, some of those differences were discussed. As the report was being put together, Cargill scientists had argued that the agriculture industry was well prepared to adapt to changes. Mr. Bloomberg was skeptical, Mr. Page recalled. During a break, Mr. Bloomberg took Mr. Page aside and peppered him with questions: Do these technologies exist? Or are you saying they will someday — “as in, we know there will be a cure for cancer, but we have no idea when or how?” Mr. Page said he respected Mr. Bloomberg’s diligence in seeking answers, although he maintained that adaptation was more a matter of execution for the food industry, not research and development. “But the guy’s a good reporter, let’s put it that way,” Mr. Page said. Light Touch With the Message Mr. Paulson works on the upper floors of a skyscraper in downtown Chicago, with a conference room overlooking the Chicago River. In January, the wind across it is cutting, and ice floes drift along the sides. By midcentury, if the Risky Business report is right, those ice floes will be gone. When Mr. Paulson speaks to local groups, he makes sure to bring data from the report tailored to their county. “I’m not just having an abstract conversation about climate being this big risk. I can say, ‘Let me tell you!’ ” he said, slapping the table. “Here’s what this is going to mean to you, your industry and your family. Suddenly people are interested.” Mr. Cisneros says he uses a soft touch when speaking to real estate groups, so that people don’t feel lectured to. “I say, ‘This has not been my highest priority either, but it’s got my attention, and I want to share it with you,’ ” he said. He warns audiences to budget for spiraling insurance premiums in coastal states like Florida, and to keep in mind that in droughtprone regions like California’s Central Valley, water permits may become hard to acquire. Mr. Page treads especially lightly when addressing farmers’ groups, as he says they have been conditioned to think of global warming as a liberal euphemism for more regulation. Instead of coming right at the issue, he takes a circuitous route. “I ask simple questions: ‘Would you like universities to suspend research on seeds that grow in higher temperatures? Of course not! That’s all I’m saying!’ ” he said, raising his hands defensively. “You get people to acknowledge that they, too, have anxieties. It’s a micro­acknowledgment, not a macro­acknowledgment.” Through this kind of education, several committee members hope to recruit business leaders to the side that helps, not hinders, the fight against climate change. “The whole point of all of this is that it can be mitigated,” Mr. Paulson said. “The enemies of what we’re trying to do are short­termism and a sense of hopelessness. But if we act soon we can avoid the worst outcomes and adapt.” Even so, the committee members seem to have a long road ahead of them. After meeting with Mr. Page, Jon Doggett, executive vice president of the National Corn Growers Association, said he was skeptical that the report would influence farmers much. His members need near­term incentives to cut greenhouse gases — immediate cost savings, government incentives and so forth, he said. “Are we going to reduce greenhouse gas emissions today because we believe there’s an economic benefit 15 years from now? That’s way too hypothetical for a family­owned and operated business that has to make a payment this year,” Mr. Doggett said. “The banker doesn’t get paid in hypothetical dollars.” Dale Moore, executive director of public policy for the American Farm Bureau Federation, which lobbies in Washington on behalf of farmers and ranchers, said he agreed with Mr. Page that climate seemed to be in a “more extreme cycle” and that agribusiness would do well to develop hardier seed strains. But the group’s members remain skeptical that humans cause climate change. They are part of a consortium opposing the Environmental Protection Agency’s new proposed rule limiting coal­fired power plants. But not all business groups feel this way. The Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce parted ways with the national Chamber of Commerce in 2011 specifically because the views of Seattle members on climate change differed so drastically with the sort of climate­denying statements the national group was making. “We were hosting clean technology conferences,” said Maud Daudon, president of the group, “and they were issuing statements that came from an entirely different place.” Bit by bit, the Risky Business Project’s committee members hope to turn the tide, bringing Congress around to the way that a majority of Americans feels. “We’ve made progress on things like civil rights, smoking, gay marriage and other things that seemed impossible to move when businesspeople joined the silent majority,” said Mr. Cisneros. “Congress tends not to act until the broad mainstream, including business, is aboard.” And if business feels the pain in its wallet, it will feel the heat to act, even on the coldest of days.

27 comments:

Anonymous said...

Climate change is an important issue currently. The article mentions that many individuals are aware that climate change is happening and is dangerous from the earth, although these same individuals place other problems as more important. Fortunately we have wealthy leaders in the U.S. that are willing to raise public awareness at their own expense. Along with donating their money, these leaders are donating their time by forming a committee to learn about the effects of climate change, and how to better educate current society about the solutions. I think this is the best approach towards solving the problem of climate change. I believe education combined with evidence will help change the minds of many. Some cities are already moving towards the right mindset to deal with climate change as can be shown in this quote from the article: "The Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce parted ways with the National Chamber of Commerce in 2011 specifically because the views of Seattle members on climate change differed so drastically with the sort of climate-­denying statements the national group was making." Seattle is setting a great example for the rest of the country to take action.

-Frazer Winsted

Sulana Robinson said...

At this point, it just does not make sense to act as if climate change is not a relevant thing. There is a growing consciousness now, within the political field. So this may be something to strengthen the demand for change. However, it seems as if we are already so deep into degradation of numerous sources... also the rapid change made by the aftermath of "natural" disasters that has left many people no choice but to relocate. Relocating can't be a solution for all of these induced disasters. There just has to be a different world view to offer and abide by as a whole.

Anonymous said...

Climate change is obvious, it is happening and it is getting worse. In 20 years people can tell you what has changed from memory, if that is not terrifying enough to make remarkable changes in how business, people, and government run then I do not know how many storms will need to happen to convince people to do something.
I do not want a drought to happen, to make people realize that you need to change your lifestyle and how a business is run after a tragedy occurs where life and limb are lost in the process. We need and have to think about future generations, the future is all we have, the Earth our only home, and we have a responsibility to protect them both without hesitation.
But i can see the argument, "If it will not happen in mine or my children and grand children's lives then why should we care?" The answer is so that after everyone you have ever met and known is long since dead the future inhabitants of this planet do not look back and curse your life and decision. So that when future people look into history, those who make the change early are seen as pioneers and are remembered not in infamy. But virtue instead.

Beverly Levine

Anonymous said...

It is an understandable concern that people will not act against climate change unless it is an immediate problem, but I can't help but feeling as though many of the people who are feeling this way are being extremely selfish towards future generations. Its true that farmers need to continue to put food on the table, and its important to maintain a healthy and growing economy in every way we can, but climate change isn't just some far off problem that can be pushed under the rug. There are things happening every day that show how evident the problem is- such as the extreme weather patterns we have been experiencing. Just because these problems can easily be blamed on something else, or because the real consequences won't come for years, doesn't mean that action shouldn't be taken now. At some point we need to start making real and hard decisions, and accept that there are many sacrifices that need to be made. Since climate change was accepted by many almost 40 years ago, it has been said over and over again that changes will be made, however if those changes were actually carried through we wouldn't have such a detrimental problem on our hands today. This is a problem that needs to be addressed immediately and by everyone, not just those who have the power and money to do something about it.

-Rachael Pepper

Chelsea Dow said...

I think an interesting section of this article is the focus on the word "adaptation." Prior to climate change, it seems that dealing with political issues and using the "A" word was in a sense suicide for your debate. Asking to adapt meant you were giving up. Once climate change came about, it became apparent that there was no other choice but to adapt to the changes exemplified by the Earth's systems. Adapting is one thing, people on the vulnerable coast lines of Florida can lift their homes to avoid flooding. However, I think a better word to bring to the climate change argument is simplifying. The catalyst for climate change is usually human influenced from over production of agriculture, over fishing our oceans, and consuming products at a rapid pace. Learning to decrease this consumption and simplify life, along with adapting to climatic changes, will bring about a more harmonious society.

Another part of the article I think is worth mentioning is the quote "Climate change would increase energy demand in Texas by between 3.4 and 9.2 percent by mid century." I think many fail to realize that the Earth's resources are finite, and their prices will rise as they become depleted. Climate change will become an expensive endeavor for all forms of non renewable energy sectors, large scale agricultural companies, and humans on a day to day basis if changes are not made. Since it seems that relaying scientific facts about climate change does not stop top dollar investors, perhaps these statistics will.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate the fact that even though the guy in the beginning didn't "...know [or care] about whether human activity causes climate change" but did know that people should be at least talking about climate change. I feel as though that is pretty important- that knowledge that climate change should be apart of the discussion, no matter the circumstances. A lot more people today believe that climate change and/or global warming are happening, including the guy in the beginning, which of whom knows that things have changed even within the course of his lifetime.

-Elizabeth Piper Phillips

Chrissy Cranwell said...

The fast pace life we live in is a great factor in why people refuse to take the time to focus on our environmental standing. It was mentioned in the article but I think it goes a lot deeper than there being other factors that are more significant. The factors that were mentioned (work, eat, save etc.) are more prevalent in our lives than the climate. Everyday people take the frantic commute to work. People throw in time to eat. Time to relax. Time to pay their bills. For the majority they don't throw in the thought of climate change in their morning routine. Instead they just stick their head out the door, see how the weather is and leave. Climate change isn't relevant in everyday life, it is a concept of the future. Like most future priorities they are put off until the last minute. At this point we are wired to focus on what we need to do for ourselves in the moment not for ourselves in the future. There also isn't significant media coverage about climate change compared to other issues. I think that if media places a greater emphasis on climate change and policies that can help us that people will start to jump on board. We value what the news tells us without a question most of the time.

Anonymous said...

Maybe not so much a solution but a positive effect on spreading awareness about the growing issue of climate change would be hitting home for the people. The article mentions about how we've improved issues that people would've never had thought would be fixed; such as smoking, gay marriage, civil rights etc. Although a solution to climate change is not exactly as easy as those situations, if people realize how it was effecting them and their families, moves would begin to made slowly but surely. Not all storms are proof that climate change is in effect, but years later from now I'm sure if you look into the patterns and such of when storms and or disasters took place and where their could be some evidence there that it is progressively getting worse. So, if we alert the people of the growing climate crisis but tell them something along the lines of "no need to rush, bad things will begin to happen years in the future", most people will not do anything about it because it will not effect them in the long run. This shouldn't be a problem that only the wealthily and powerful can deal with it.

-Katherine Murphy

Anonymous said...

When we think of climate change and getting people to support it, I think it is important to gain public support but it is even more important for farmers and businesses to understand that climate change is very real and it's already happening. When most people think of climate change happening, they think of the melting of the ice caps or the polar bears. What they don't think about is the increased drought across the country, the increased amount of intense storms that we have experienced over the years, and the growing concern among farmers about higher temperatures affecting crops. While it is important for governments and the wealthy and powerful people across the world to recognize climate change and understand that there is a problem, it is also important that small businesses, local farmers, and the general public understand it as a threat as well. Small changes really can make a huge difference, and if more of society understood this and was willing to do something in order to lessen the effects of climate change, we could very well be on our way towards a permanent solution to the problem at hand.

-Marrina Gallant

Anonymous said...

this is the kind of reading that is really good to get people thinking. It is clear that many people are having some real difficulty accepting that we are a huge part of the cause of the rising temperatures of the planet. while it was slightly assuring to read that 83% of americans know that humans are behind climate changed, it is still very unfortunate when i realize that the issues that they think are of the utmost important (unemployment) are issues that wont even matter if climate change is not addressed. but it seams that many people will not even address it until it is shoved in their face, especially finically.
Nick Stanton

Michael Giordano said...

I think one of the major issues we, as in the U.S. face in dealing with climate change is what to do about it. At this point in time the conversation can't be about whether climate change is happening or not. The American people believe climate change is happening as shown by the poll depicting 83% agree the climate is changing. The conversation among the general public and government needs to switch to saying now that we know climate change is happening, what are our options in combatting it. I believe one important way to show the effects of climate change to companies is to conduct research and release a report similar to what was done in Britain stating that the cost of combatting climate change would be far less than doing nothing about it. This is important for businesses to hear because as soon as people start talking about adding regulations and carbon taxes etc., all businesses hear at that point is their money going down the drain because they thinks the regulations and taxes are going to be expensive to implement therefore lowering their profits. Climate change won't be solved overnight but it will require the help of all industries, the government, and the general public to decrease its effects.

Anonymous said...

People are aware that climate change is happening yet they are not so aware of it to do anything about it. I believe that humans need to see something as an immediate problem for them to actually attempt fixing it. At this point, climate change is obvious but until people feel personally threatened they will not care as much as they should. People should be better educated about these issues so we can make the right choices and begin to get on a track that is going in the right direction. Although climate change is extremely relevant, many people do not see it that way and right now t is our job to make them see it that way.

- Victoria Kusy

Geordi Taylor said...

I admire the group that the article focused on (Risky Business Project) attempts to collectively raise awareness about climate change. However, I must say that we should not be praising them so much for their efforts because they are not interested in the impact that climate change will have on the lives of average people, their communities/environments, and living situation. The group was formed simply to collectively figure out how to combat climate change's devastating effect on corporate profits. I am not demonizing them for this, but I would like to see them also place more emphasis and concern on the people who are already being affected by climate change, such as the nations in the Indian Ocean.

Furthermore, I noticed that the bipartisanship that exists within the U.S. government seems to exist within this group, and it causes one to wonder whether or not they will actually be able to accomplish anything. Also, the fact that there are people within the group that believe that agricultural industry is prepared to handle the effects of climate change is simply mind-blowing, especially when they are only focusing on fixing the "most likely" events. Has time not shown, in multiple occurrences, that the effects of climate change are very random and rapid?

Anonymous said...

It's amazing that despite the statistical, physical, and scientific evidence which points to climate change as being a major threat, that people still treat the environment like their own personal dump. Instead of being proactive and taking initiative to combat the effects of climate change, we let "indecision and indifference" prevail instead. We are aware that changing our ways can have a positive impact. We also know what the likely outcomes are if we continue our patterns. Yet we fail to implement such changes that could help us as well as future generations. Educating more people is a good place to start but actions speak louder than words. We need to make change happen before we surpass the ecological tipping points.
-Emma Weis

Anthony Jones said...

It is interesting and quite shocking to read that big business barons who couldn’t care less about the environment re now making the connection and taking an increased interest in Climate change. However, the interest is not whole-heartedly genuine, as the main focal point is still business as usual. It’s as if they are insinuating that climate change is only important because it puts their businesses in jeopardy. Here's a quote from the article: 'He says that over the next 50 years, if nothing is done, crop yields in many states will most likely fall, the costs of cooling chicken farms will rise and floods will more frequently swamp the railroads that transport food in the United States. He wants American agribusiness to be ready.' But isn't it this same industrial "agribusiness" that contributed largely to our climate challenge? One would think American agribusiness would consider making serious changes to its practices, ensuring that disaster is averted in addition to ensuring preparedness. Nonetheless, it is indeed still important to consider climate change and the impacts it will have on agriculture, but it isn't enough to simply "urge farmers to take it [climate change]" more seriously', because after all, they are only a singular aspect in this system of supply and demand. Much more pressure must be placed on big food corporations to better improve their business models ensuring that out on the farm, mono culture is no longer THE growing culture of the day, ensuring that seed saving traditions are returned to land, ensuring that diversity is secured and crop yields are consistent making agriculture is no longer synonymous with the degradation of the environment and cruelty to animals. Agriculture should no longer be a “business” and hence the term “agribusiness” should be stricken as it was probably this tipping point that has made it less human, less about people and the planet and more about profit; ultimately resulting in an industrial conversion lending its hand to climate change.

Anthony Jones said...

It is interesting and quite shocking to read that big business barons who couldn’t care less about the environment are now making the connection and taking an increased interest in Climate change. However, the interest is not whole-heartedly genuine, as the main focal point is still business as usual. It’s as if they are insinuating that climate change is only important because it puts their businesses in jeopardy. Here's a quote from the article: 'He says that over the next 50 years, if nothing is done, crop yields in many states will most likely fall, the costs of cooling chicken farms will rise and floods will more frequently swamp the railroads that transport food in the United States. He wants American agribusiness to be ready.' But isn't it this same industrial "agribusiness" that contributed largely to our climate challenge? One would think American agribusiness would consider making serious changes to its practices, ensuring that disaster is averted in addition to ensuring preparedness. Nonetheless, it is indeed still important to consider climate change and the impacts it will have on agriculture, but it isn't enough to simply "urge farmers to take it [climate change]" more seriously', because after all, they are only a singular aspect in this system of supply and demand. Much more pressure must be placed on big food corporations to better improve their business models ensuring that out on the farm, mono culture is no longer THE growing culture of the day, ensuring that seed saving traditions are returned to land, ensuring that diversity is secured and crop yields are consistent, making agriculture no longer synonymous with the degradation of the environment and cruelty to animals. Agriculture should no longer be a “business”, and hence the term “agribusiness” should be stricken, as it was probably this tipping point that has made it less human, less about people and the planet and more about profit; ultimately resulting in an industrial conversion lending its hand to climate change.

Kobe Yank-Jacobs said...

I think it's wonderful to have the leaders of the group be bipartisan––Steyer on the left and Bloomberg and Paulson on the right––the problem is that Bloomberg and Paulson don't represent the ardent far right deniers to any great extent, and they are the problem. They're willing to deny climate change any cost and they can do this because the issue doesn't fall on the electoral timetable like most issues––the economy, health care, ect. These are things people feel the burden of daily, hence they elect their representatives based on their predilection to solve these problems over ones that seem distant and don't cause immediate imposition.

I think the wise thing to do would be for Obama to use Keystone as a bargaining chip for a broader agreement. In the end of the day Keystone will be moving oil that will be on the move anyways. So what Republicans don't realize that this oil will go straight from Louisiana to the world market, and that it creates about 35 permanent jobs––if it can be used to create some sort of broader agreement the cost would be worth it. Now one choice would be to use it as political ransom for an infrastructure bill––which we desperately need and would be veritably easier to bargain for––or the other option would be to get back the cap-and-trade bill that fell through in 2010 as a result of the polarizing nature of the simultaneous health care debate.

When such a large proportion of our political leaders are in denial of the facts cynicism is an easy choice, but it is just that––a choice. Let us hope we can return climate change to it's proper context, not as a polarizing political issue but a danger to human existence that must be managed by pragmatic policy makers to whatever extent possible.

Kobe Yank-Jacobs

Marisa Flannery said...

Although people understand that climate change is happening, its unfortunate that they don't believe it should be a priority because it's not necessarily an immediate issue. Eventually, actual big solutions are going to need to happen. However, to get all the people needed on board, will take time. I believe as long as people continue to gain more knowledge on the subject, more support will come for actions dealing with climate change and other environmental issues.

Michael Tierney said...

Currently, climate change is a very important issue that has yet to be properly dealt with. The cap and trade was a dot bandaid to the broken limb that climate change really is. It helped ease the thoughts about climate change and the current pollution and degradations that manufacturers SHOULD be accountable for, while really it had no concrete rules in order to actually do an effective good. It just limited how much they could pollute and the ones that were most sufficient and had more room under their cap sold the rest of it to other companies in order to increase the size of their caps. There are a bunch more of different polices and techniques that limit climate change, but really all the money and efforts to changing what we are already degrading is just going into brainstorming newer ideas. There hasn't been a very effective way to deal with it just yet, but we are hoping that the meeting in Paris will come with a much better plan, as long as the most powerful and valuable players work together instead of compete for who has the bigger pockets and who is the most prepared for the future problems that will come. If no one works together at this meeting, it will be for nothing. We need to realize that things NEED to change right now because we have been talking and thinking about these problems for over 50 years and we are still "kicking the can down the street." I don't think that there is anything possible these days without a LOT of money and a LOT more effort, but it will only come if we start working together. We, that goes for all of us concerned with climate change with a lot of funds to help the cause or who are willing to get their hands very dirty to do the job, need to work together on the same page to come to a successful conclusion to our current degredation. We need to reduce and remove as many problems as we can and we need to do it fast. If the status quo remains unchanged, we will be looking forward to billions more in damage, reduced crop yields, extinction of different species, and possibly worse, the destruction of the human population. I think the worse thing that could happen is they agree to change things "in the future." 5 years 10 years 15 years later is NOT good. We have been sweeping the dirt under the rug for too long and we need action.

--Michael Tierney

Chrissy Cranwell said...

I don't see a problem with ecological economists placing a price tag on the environment. It was kind of like another cost-risk analysis where they were trying to show how much money it takes to preserve our world. One of the problems was that they got caught with a non-negotiable administration. The other problem is that we are wired to obsess about the economy because it is essentially our life. Money drives every aspect of our lives so we tend to go with the option that makes our money go farther faster. I think change can only occur if we encounter a "new enlightenment". There needs to be a philosophical revolution to change our attitudes. Society as a whole needs to become less selfish, and only then will we start to have an impact in stopping climate change.

Anonymous said...

The opportunity cost of postponing action is too high. Even when businesses are too afraid to declare their acceptance of climate change, they are bracing for its impact. Businesses do rely on the luxury of "tomorrow". Climate change is no longer a problem of the future that we should address now. It is a problem of the now that will cause catastrophic changes within our lifetime. No other economic or political issues can be put before it, because their outcomes inherently rely upon the outcome of our actions toward a stable climate future. The article suggests that the use of the word adaptation is avoided. Adaptation is not an option, it is inevitable, however now is the only time that we will have the option to decide how to adapt.
The issue of climate cannot be left for another day or another generation. We are that generation and tomorrow will be too late.

-Nadya Hall

Joan Podolski said...

In this piece i noticed a quote that stood out to me.
"How do you make climate change feel real and immediate for people?". i think that it is a very important question for everyone out there, and is also scary true. Most people do not know what is going on in environment or how to help. In my own personal opinion, i feel like for anyone to realize that there is a climate change, they need to experience it first hand. Once someone senses something different about the world around them, is when they start to believe in the environmental issues. What i thought was also pretty neat was how George Bush decided to help fund the program "Risky Business Project" and i think it is really important that they continue to fund them. The more that people study these changes, the more it benefits everyone else from being aware of their own surroundings.

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