Monday, July 28, 2014

Former Clinton Treasury Secretary explains why climate change denial is dangerous to the economy


“Ignoring climate change could sink U.S. Economy”,  Robert E. Rubin, US Treasury Secretary under President Bill Clinton from 1995-1999,  writes.  He also says that firms need to disclose climate change risks to investors.  His column  ppears Sunday July 27 in the Outlook section of the Washington Post.
   
Two of the biggest problems will be the loss of real estate in coastal areas, and the inability of people to work outdoors in many parts of the country in the summer. 
  
Governments or policy makers will have to figure out what happens to property that actually is lost and becomes unusable.  On a small scale, this is happening in the Fort Washington community of Piscataway Hills, in southern Prince Georges County, MD (south of National Harbor about ten miles) after a “slope failure” following heavy rains has resulted in the possibility of permanent condemnation of some homes. It appears that the County may give owners assessed value of the land, but the help from the state is not yet clear.  Is this what would happen in Florida, the Gulf Coast, Long Island, etc?  


Of course, as gruesome an idea as it sounds, governments could face the same possibility after some kinds of terrorist attacks, like a dirty bomb or large scale EMP, or even possibly after a massive solar storm.  In the worst circumstances, federal government could fail, as in the NBC series “Revolution”. 
  
But climate change denial is dangerous even from a free-market, business perspective, and Rubin is surprised to see so many Republicans clinging to it.    
  
By the way, I see that my own homeowner’s premium has gone up by 40% since 2004.  I presume (here in suburban Washington DC) that I am paying for others’ losses to hurricanes (especially Katrina and Sandy), monster tornadoes, and especially wildfires. (For these risks, we can build a lot smarter than we do.)  We haven’t had really major earthquakes, which are not affected by climate change.  Neither is space weather (and the Carrington coronal mass ejection risk, discussed yesterday on my main blog).   



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