Thursday, October 26, 2006

Hard Rain Journal 10-27-06: Climate Crisis & Sustainability Update -- The Economic Cost of Continued Denial

Hard Rain Journal 10-27-06: Climate Crisis & Sustainability Update -- The Economic Cost of Continued Denial

By Richard Power

Three recent reports, one from a former chief economist for the World Bank, one from the United Nations' Globally Important Agriculture Heritage Systems (GIAHS) initiative, and one from the government of Switzerland, highlight three vital issues related to climate crisis and sustainability.

The cost of doing less is greater than the cost of doing more, and the difference may add up to survival:

Climate change could tilt the world's economy into the worst global recession in recent history, a report will warn next week. Sir Nicholas Stern, a former chief economist with the World Bank, will warn that governments need to tackle the problem head-on by cutting emissions or face economic ruin. The findings...will turn economic argument about global warming on its head by insisting that fighting global warming will save industrial nations money....Speaking at a climate change conference in Birmingham, he said: "All of [Stern's] detailed modelling out to the year 2100 is going to indicate first of all that if we don't take global action we are going to see a massive downturn in global economies." He added: "If no action is taken we will be faced with the kind of downturn that has not been seen since the great depression and the two world wars." Sir David called the review "the most detailed economic analysis that I think has yet been conducted". James Randerson, Tackle Climate Change or Face Deep Recession, World's Leaders Warned · Economic review turns cost argument on head, Guardian, 10-26-06

The survival of the many is inextricably linked to the survival of the few:

Communities that lived off fishing and forest produce on the Chiloe archipelago in the south of Chile for centuries have now begun to leave. They could deal with the difficult conditions, but the environment cannot sustain many of them any more. In North Africa communities that lived around oases for centuries have begun to move out. The traditional people of old are the refugees of today. Difficult places both, but not so difficult that they could not sustain local people. And in turn the indigenous people of these areas worked with the environment to develop new sustenance for themselves and others. Chiloe gave the world the potato, some agriculturists say.
But as difficult conditions become close to impossible, many of these places need help. The beginning of that came by way of the Globally Important Agriculture Heritage Systems (GIAHS) initiative launched in 2002 by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, with the support of the Global Environment Fund.
The initiative, which has led mostly to research so far, identified about 200 agricultural systems that are threatened by climate change, rural impoverishment, exodus to urban areas, exclusion of local economies from large-scale markets and other such dangers...
Sabina Zaccaro, Saving Life on the Edges of the World, Inter Press Service, 10-26-06

Meanwhile, too many industry leaders in too many societies (even in relatively responsible ones like Switzerland) are still avoiding the challenges:

A new long-term government policy paper promoting renewable energy sources has been harshly criticised by business groups and power companies. The Swiss Business Federation, economiesuisse, and the Swiss power company association, swisselectric, distanced themselves from the "Energy Outlook Forum" final report....The working group brought together the main actors from politics, business, civil society and the environment to discuss Switzerland's long-term energy policy up to 2035. The report headed by former senator, Dori Schaer-Born, stresses the importance of energy efficiency. Among the recommendations, it proposes economic incentives to encourage innovation and the progressive introduction of energy-saving regulations. The paper also emphasises the need to increase investment in renewable energies, which it claims offers the greatest potential in terms of profitability and efficiency. The lack of capacity in power supply, which is expected to continue despite energy-saving measures or the increasing use of renewable energies, has to be temporarily compensated by existing nuclear power plants and gas power stations, the report states. But any additional carbon dioxide emissions have to be reduced and compensated. New energy policy generates stiff resistance, Swiss Info, 10-26-06

Want to participate in the effort to mitigate the impact of global warming? Download "Ten Things You Can Do"

There is a powerful magic in personal commitment.

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