Search Archives:

Custom Search

Friday, July 07, 2006

Global Warming is About Money, OK?

(Keywords & tags: , , , , , if it has to be about in order for s and to take seriously - fine, it's about money)

Serious people take global warming seriously. Foolish people do not. Due to a complete lack of vision, many on the right seem to believe they can argue reality away, rather than face short term expenses and disrupting the status quo. Corporations buy shills to gin up a phony 'controversy' over causes of global warming and what changes need to be made.

We've tried reason, we've tried fact, we've tried appeals to basic human decency - no dice. The anti-global warming moonies are not moved. So let's speak in language these rightwing fools understand - global warming is costing you money.

From Fortune:

Long-term investors, take heed: Global warming will have a significant impact on the financial performance of companies in your portfolio.

Some companies -- General Electric, DuPont, Cinergy, American Electric Power, BP, Toyota and Honda -- are seriously grappling with the risks and opportunities posed by climate change. They will be better prepared as governments and shareholders focus on the issue.

Many others -- ExxonMobil, Dominion Power, Sempra Energy, Nissan, BMW and Volkswagen -- have been slow to address climate change, and they could put their owners at financial risk.

Those, at least, are the findings of a report released Tuesday that takes a close look at how 100 of the world's largest companies are positioning themselves to compete in what's called a "carbon-constrained world" -- that is, a world in which emissions of greenhouse gases are regulated, as they are today in Europe and Japan and probably will be before long in the United States.

The report, which ranks the companies on a 100-point scoring system, comes from a group called Ceres, a coalition of environmentalists and institutional investors, including government pension funds, socially responsible mutual funds and religious investors, with $3 trillion in assets. It's worth checking out at

"Climate change is no longer a fringe issue, no longer an issue that can be ignored," said Mindy Lubber, the president of Ceres, at a news conference. "These trends present enormous risks and opportunities."

Reuters reports that other industries face losses related to climate change:

The world's second-largest reinsurer, Swiss Re, warned on Wednesday that the costs of natural disasters, aggravated by global warming, threatened to spiral out of control, forcing the human race into a catastrophe of its own making.

In a report revealing how climate change is rising on the corporate agenda, Swiss Re said the economic costs of such disasters threatened to double to $150 billion (82 billion pounds) a year in 10 years, hitting insurers with $30-40 billion in claims, or the equivalent of one World Trade Center attack annually.

"There is a danger that human intervention will accelerate and intensify natural climate changes to such a point that it will become impossible to adapt our socio-economic systems in time," Swiss Re said in the report.

And losses aren't the only way that a failure to address global warming will hit your pocketbook. Dealing with it creates new technologies, which in turn create new industries. Where the US could be a leader in these new technologies and industries, we've decided that we ought to sit this one out. While the rest of the world moves away from oil and coal technologies, we could find ourselves the last experts in a technology no one uses anymore.

Biodiesel and ethanol are emerging as major industries in nations like Argentina and Brazil. "[Edmundo] Defferrari hopes his $152,000 prototype plant in Chacabuco, about 145 miles west of Buenos Aires, will herald a trend that will become as common as cow dung," MSNBC reported in January, "The plant can churn out about 360 gallons of biodiesel and 10 tons of animal feed from 12 tons of soybeans per day. Not only does it produce fuel that's about half diesel's market price, it's automated, requiring humans only to load the contraption and turn it on and off." Let's do the math. Oil is now about $75 a barrel or about a buck seventy-nine a gallon. For a one time investment of $152,000, you can turn out 360 gallons a day - in less than a year, the plant has payed for itself and the only cost is the soybeans. Otherwise, it's pure profit. And even the cost of the soybeans is offset by selling the unfermentable solid waste (or mash) as animal feed. Breweries do the same thing with barley.

Still, industry is driven to insane rationalizations in order to protect the status quo, as Associated Press reports:

Royal Dutch Shell, the world's top marketer of biofuels, considers using food crops to make biofuels "morally inappropriate" as long as there are people in the world who are starving, an executive said on Thursday.

Eric G Holthusen, Fuels Technology Manager Asia/Pacific, said the company's research unit, Shell Global Solutions, has developed alternative fuels from renewable resources that use wood chips and plant waste rather than food crops that are typically used to make the fuels.

Sounds nice, but it's a lot less efficient to use wood or plant waste as biodiesel and nearly impossible for ethanol, which requires sugars. The concern that growing fuel takes away from food production is false. The vast majority of hungry people in the world live in nations with food surpluses. The problem isn't in production, it's in distribution. And growing crops for fuel doesn't take up land that could be used for food production - who looks at a petunia farm and thinks, "What a disgusting waste!"?

Crops grown for uses other than human consumption can be grown anywhere, year round. A lot of corn grown for 'feed & seed' is grown in urban industrial parks, using hydroponics and greenhouses.


If this is what global warming needs to be about in order to get the rightwing deniers on the side of reality, then this is what it's about. It's costing you money. Money you could be making is being spent outside the US. It's costing you in terms of higher insurance costs, in more tax dollars spent on natural disasters, in potential income lost because we're ignoring emerging technologies, markets, and industries.

If you're a dick and everything has to be about money before it becomes really important, then global warming is all about money.


1 comment:

Keith said...

Excellent. You're right. "If you'll only listen to money then you gotta hear this..." is an important arrow to have in your quiver.