Monday, September 22, 2014

Climate March and the Economy

Much to the dismay of the fossil fuel industry and the professional deniers, the People's Climate March held in New York City was an enormous success. Organizers had predicted 100,000 people would show up, while police said they expected 30,000. The reality is that more than 400,000 people participated in the march in New York, with thousands of related marches in cities all over the world. I noted that Fox News has their coverage of the event buried way back in their climate section without a word of it on the front page. I had to do a search to find the article. Meanwhile, I found front page coverage of the event on CNN, Yahoo! News, Google News, CBS News, and CNN Money, just to name a few after a quick search.

The denier industry is working on spin control on this one. Already, what they are saying is that its unimportant and people aren't concerned with climate change.  Their evidence is to point to a recent Gallup Poll that showed 41% of respondents listing economic issues as the most important issue facing the country, while only 1% listed climate change/environment as the most important issue. (You can apparently make more than one selection, so the total percentage is 141%.) So, is this proof that people aren't concerned with climate change? No, this is actually just the latest example of how the denier industry is in the business of lying and deceiving.

Keep in mind this poll asked about what is the "most important problem", and didn't ask about what you might find to be the second most important problem, or the third. A Gallup poll from last spring showed that 39% described themselves as "Concerned Believers." Only 25% described themselves as "Cool Skeptics." Obviously, more than 1% of the population is concerned about climate change. That, by itself, puts the lie to the deniers.

But, that isn't the end of the story. Keep in mind, 41% said they thought economic issues were the most important. So, what does that have to do with climate change? Well, everything. Climate change is all about economic issues. Remember, it is the economy that led to global warming and it is the economy that is suffering because of it.

While contrarians made comments on this blog or sent me emails about how there was a big cold front across the Eastern U.S., with snow in the upper-Midwest, in early September, they ignored (very typical behavior) what was going on in the rest of the world, such as California. The West Coast, at the same time as the cool front in the east, was suffering a record heat wave and had to issue heat alerts as the temperature soared to record levels and was over 100 degrees in some areas. The Los Angeles interim health director cautioned people about the heat and stated, "it can be dangerous and even deadly," something we know about here in Texas, but the people in LA are not use to this kind of heat and many are unprepared. As a result, many will suffer and many will crank up the air conditioner, which will put a strain on the overstretched California power grid and drive up people's utility bills. Money they could have been spending on other things will now go to the utilities. Where do you make cuts in the household budget to pay extra utility expenses when the budget is already tight?

This is just the tip of the rapidly melting iceberg for California. Of course, the big news is the drought. Over 82% of the state is listed as being in "extreme" or "exceptional" drought. The National Weather Service is considering adding a new category to more properly classify the situation in California. Towns are going without water and over 17,000 jobs have been lost in the agriculture business. Estimates are that California will lose over $800 million worth of agriculture business because of the drought, part of the $2.2 billion in losses and added expenses the California agriculture sector will suffer this year. And, if you don't think you will pay for that loss I suggest you take a look at the prices at your local grocery store.

So many farmers are pumping ground water for irrigation that the ground is sinking and has already caused $1.3 billion in damage to roads, bridges and pipelines. An emergency $7.5 billion water bond is on the November ballot to expand the size of the reservoirs. Just looking at those last two items adds up to $8.8 billion to the 38 million people of California - over $230 per person, or nearly $1000 for a family of four. Keep in mind, that is the cost of just those two issues and doesn't include things like those lost ag jobs and lost ag business - and wildfires.

The drought has made the wildfire situation worse in California by drying out the landscape. One wildfire recently tripled in size and extended itself by more than 10 miles over night, a record growth, and forced the evacuation of over 3000 people while threatening 12,000 homes. Another fire destroyed 150 buildings in a northern California town. Again, someone will have to pay for all of this and I'm sure you can guess who it will be. Governments, businesses and insurance agencies will all pass the losses on to the consumer.

But, what about other areas?

Here is a news article about how the warming oceans are leading to changes in the range of fish. This will lead to overfishing of some species and loss of habitat for others - neither scenario being good for us. Expect to see the cost of seafood go up. And, if you are in the fishing industry, you are probably concerned about your future.

When it comes to insurance expect bad things. There were over $35 billion in U.S. private insured property losses in 2012 alone, $11 billion more than the average over the previous decade. That is about $115 per person across the U.S. for just 2012. Insurance companies are completely convinced that climate change is responsible. Their response? Raise rates, deny coverage or even drop existing coverage. One way or the other, they will get their $35 billion back.

So, we see there are lost jobs, increased costs, higher utility bills, destroyed homes and businesses, increased taxes, higher insurance rates, lowered standard of living - and all because of climate change.

Yes, we really should have economic issues as our number one concern. 

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