Food For Thought: Extreme Weather Statistics: “It’s Global Warming, Stupid”

Front Cover of the November 1, 2012 edition of Bloomberg Businessweek

Here is some more food for thought in the climate energy era. This time regarding statistics related to extreme weather events:

– Manitoba’s 2011 flood cost hit past the $1 billion mark.

– Hurricane Sandy is expected to cost more than US$50 billion dollars.

– According to the November 1st edition of Bloomberg Businessweek, in 2011, there were 14 US$1 billion weather disasters.

– A recent World Bank Report suggests an increase of 4C would see rapid sea level rise, heat waves that would adversely affect the world’s poorest regions. in the report.

– Hurricane Sandy and the U.S. mid-west drought this summer are on pace to rank in the most costly financial weather disasters since 1980.

– 2012 is also expected to be the second most expensive year relating to weather events, only behind 2011.

– North America has been the most effected by extreme weather catastrophes between 1980 to 2010, compared to other areas of the world, with climate change playing a role according to Munich re:

Nowhere in the world is the rising number of natural catastrophes more evident than in North America. The study shows a nearly quintupled number of weather-related loss events in North America for the past three decades, compared with an increase factor of 4 in Asia, 2.5 in Africa, 2 in Europe and 1.5 in South America. Anthropogenic climate change is believed to contribute to this trend, though it influences various perils in different ways. Climate change particularly affects formation of heat-waves, droughts, intense precipitation events, and in the long run most probably also tropical cyclone intensity. The view that weather extremes are becoming more frequent and intense in various regions due to global warming is in keeping with current scientific findings, as set out in the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as well as in the special report on weather extremes and disasters (SREX). Up to now, however, the increasing losses caused by weather related natural catastrophes have been primarily driven by socio-economic factors, such as population growth, urban sprawl and increasing wealth.

The numbers speak for themselves. The numbers are damning. It’s real. It’s not going anywhere. If you think the problem is only going to get better, you are sadly mistaken. When economists like Nicholas Stern in 2006 suggest global Gross Domestic Product will fall dramatically because of changes of the earth’s climate, you know you have problems.

The question is: When we are fascinated by watching the events unfold on CNN, the Weather Channel in the States, or on CBC in Canada, why do we treat this like some movie? It’s not a movie. It’s real life with a tub of popcorn and Diet Pepsi.

“It’s Global Warming, Stupid.”


Why Capitalism Is the Best Way to Save Our Planet

Dumas Texas Wind farm via Wikipedia

Debate often amongst environmentalists whether capitalism and moderate environmentalism is the best way to save our planet.

Afterall, after the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, debate has brought climate change into the focus of the public eye. It’s aftermath is expected to top US$50 billion dollars.

But should environmentalists take a more direct action path, tearing down a capitalist system whose flaws have done severe damage on the ecosystem? Or should environmentalists take a more modest route in 2012, heading into 2013? A route of innovation, enterprise to solve some of our problems?

Anti-capitalists argue limiting economic growth, riding bicycles, walking and planting urban gardens. Proponents like Naomi Klein, and Green Illusions author Ozzie Zehner argue for such radical ideas of smashing the capitalist system.

Definitely, they have a case for this. Externalities of treating the Earth’s eco-system like a sewer helped to push carbon emissions to its highest level ever in 2011 at 390.9 parts per million. With shrinking natural resources its understandable to have an anti-capitalist fit.

However, with a population of approaching nine billion people in 2050. Add the upward trend of the emerging market middle class, along with close to one-quarter of the global population with no electricity makes it hard to argue for anti-capitalist ideas.

Afterall, capitalism has helped to create prosperity to a globalized world. Emerging market countries continue to move out of the poverty trap. The Internet and the World Wide Web, through entrepreneurship has helped create innovative business opportunities unheard of thirty years ago. Mobile phones are leapfrogging older, and outdated telecommunications technologies in poorer countries to lift those out of poverty.

Capitalism can solve the environmental problem. We are seeing some really neat sustainability ideas going on across the globe thanks to green capitalism:

Sungevity, a US solar company, thanks to fusing information technology, solar energy, along with ground breaking financing is making it for more lower to middle class citizens in the US afford clean, renewable energy.

Nissan, with the Nissan Leaf is an electric hybrid car that runs on zero emissions, and was ranked the most fuel-efficient car in its class in 2012.

General Electric in September of 2012 installed it’s 300th wind turbine in Brazil, helping to shore up it’s installed wind capacity of 1,500 mega-watts.

These are just some of the global examples seen in renewable energy and clean technology as it becomes a more popular choice.

In 2011, global investments in renewable energy were $257 billion, an increase from 2010 of $211 billion. Meanwhile, Renewable energy investment in 2010 surpassed fossil fuels for the first time.

Green capitalism is the way to go. An anti-capitalism approach will not work. From Richard Branson and Al Gore all agree this is the best system. Why go back to a feudal style?

As Bill Clinton said “It’s the economy, stupid.”