The BEST climate change vid I've seen


Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Elephant in the Oval Office

"The peaking of world oil production presents the U.S. and the world with an unprecedented risk management problem. As peaking is approached, liquid fuel prices and price volatility will increase dramatically, and, without timely mitigation, the economic, social, and political costs will be unprecedented. Viable mitigation options exist on both the supply and demand sides, but to have substantial impact, they must be initiated more than a decade in advance of peaking."

This is a statement which headed the Executive Summary of a report on Peak Oil by leading scientists, commissioned by the US Department of Energy in 2005. The statement was buried by the White House as being too scary and not political history's leading vote-winner. The possible consequences of this burial could prove a very large vote loser but I suppose it will be a later administration that suffers. Not much later though, according to many of the best-informed researchers: some say we have just passed the peak and price turbulence is rumbling; others that it is imminent. Maybe we need to be focusing on this issue even more urgently than on climate change itself...

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Lloyds of London in Climate Change U-Turn

Lord Peter Levene, Chairman of Lloyds of London, is not known for bleeding heart liberalism. He now has U-turned on his former climate change denial. Here's the report that featured in the world's media:

Global business leaders must respond urgently and decisively to mitigate the accelerating risks of climate change, said the Chairman of the Lloyd's insurance market on Friday. Lord Peter Levene warned that vast storms bigger than Hurricane Katrina are likely to strike in coming years, with devastating effects.

"Today the insurance industry faces the prospect of a 100-billion-dollar mega-catastrophe twice the size of Katrina," Levene said in a speech at Washington's National Press Club.

Levene, formerly a skeptic on climate change, runs the world's biggest insurance market at London-based Lloyd's. Lloyd's manages some of the world's most complex insurance risks, from celebrity body parts to oil rigs, and extends billions of dollars in global coverage.

The market expects to pay out six billion dollars in claims related to the record-setting 2005 US hurricane season, largely due to the devastating impact of Katrina on southern states like Louisiana and Mississippi.

Levene said Lloyd's is planning for fresh disasters, but questioned whether US lawmakers are seriously heeding the dangers posed by climate change.

"We cannot risk being in denial on catastrophe trends. So, two years after Katrina and one year away from a national (US) election, where's the public debate on catastrophe trends?" he said.
"Over the coming years, with warmer sea surface temperatures making wind-storm landfall more likely, particularly destructive storms are a likely scenario."

The insurance market chief called for tougher US building codes in coastal areas and said public awareness should be raised about the risks of more volatile weather patterns.

"We can expect the storm season to lengthen, and we will be at risk over a wider geographical area than ever before."

Levene argued against "political interference" in the pricing of risk premiums and expressed confidence that most "natural perils" can be insured if free market forces are allowed to prevail.
However, large US home insurers including State Farm and Allstate are refusing new business along wide stretches of the US east coast amid mounting concerns about bigger hurricanes.
Allstate is not issuing new homeowner policies in New York, where millions of people live just above sea level, and some insurers are refusing to pay Katrina claims, arguing that damage was caused by flooding instead of wind.

Generally, only the federal government offers US homeowners insurance against flood damage.
Levene criticized US regulations which he said discriminate against foreign insurers, requiring them to post collateral equal to 100 percent of their gross liabilities. In Lloyd's case this equates to over eight billion dollars. "Domestic reinsurers have no such obligation," Levene chafed, calling for such "discrimination" to be ended.

The administration of US President George W. Bush has abandoned the Kyoto Protocol against climate change, but Levene said many state and local governments were working to reduce their own carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

Levene said addressing climate change is good for the environment and a company's earnings, citing an initiative by US chemical group DuPont to slash its emissions of warming gases and lower its energy costs. "Even if we stop all man-made CO2 emissions now, we would still endure 30 years of warming before the effects take hold,"

"But we must not use that as an excuse not to act. History and future generations will surely not forgive us if we do."

Thursday, May 24, 2007

New Scientist Slays the Climate Change Sceptics

For anyone who's struggling with those lemming-dinosaur types (the genetically modified dinosaurs who insist on running blindly off the edge of the flat Earth), here's an excellent summary of trustworthy climate change science from the New Scientist:

After a punchy summary, it goes on to knock down all the most common climate change denial tricks, strike after strike, like ninepins.

These lemming-dinosaurs are just dodo-ostriches - or am I feathering my nest with mixed metafurs?

Time for a Change in the Business Climate

One thing that always amazes me about business is that so many of its practitioners are completely rubbish at it. At the conclusion of a strategic environmental assessment, my colleagues and I recently submitted our findings to one of the most 'successful' companies in the world. In addition to fulfilling the client's brief, we had identified possibly the biggest commercial opportunity this corporation has seen so far this century. Not only that, they already have the tools for delivering this massively profitable deal to the world's governments and people. No development costs, no establishing credentials, just articulate the problem to a very willing audience and deliver the solution, extremely profitably, from stock. Climate change is the problem, the company has a completely scalable means to reduce it by a vast amount, among hundreds of millions of end-users all over the world.

"They bit your hand off," I hear you say. Wrong. They're not all convinced that climate change is for real and they aren't confident they've got their own house in environmental order. They're therefore worried about seeming hypocritical when selling a climate change adaptation and mitigation tool.

A couple of thoughts:

1. This means they go on polluting while missing a huge profit opportunity. Not only that, they're in a 'clean' industry and could tidy up their own house in no time and at little cost. I'm reminded of a story I heard a few days ago. At election time in Indonesia it seems wealthy families buy up blocks of votes, a neighbourhood at a time. When asked why he didn't just take the money and then vote for a different candidate, one voter replied: "That would be unethical!"

2. I'm not entirely sure that Donald Duck is real. It doesn't stop Disney making billions out of him though, does it?

The whole thing's a bit Mickey Mouse if you ask me.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Heated Exchange

I've had it with the climate sceptics. They're killing us. They are complicit in genocide and attempted geocide. Ignorance is no excuse, particularly the ostrich variety. How would you feel if the babysitter told you: "I didn't hear the murderer break in and behead your child - I was listening to loud heavy metal on the headphones."

I've been working on sustainability with corporations, governments, NGOs and academics for nearly twenty years. We've covered energy use, reporting, child labour, packaging, water use, transport and a dozen other topics, again and again. I've written books about it, published articles, facilitated workshops, chaired conference sessions. I've gone back to university, researched, studied and gained a specialist masters degree in it. I've played expert witness, debated on radio, appeared on television, lectured at seminars, coached leaders, delivered trainings for international government groups. My family became the local sustainable household darlings in regular features for the local newspaper; we co-launched the UK farmers' markets movement; we converted a gorgeous 4x4 to run on rapeseed oil; we opened the first eco-hotel in the UN Heritage City of Bath, England.

What have we achieved? Nothing. It's all rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic. If we don't address the climate issue with a hugely increased dose of urgency, focus and decisive action the entire game is up. We're all going under, and the irony is, there won't be any icebergs to warn us.

So come on all you climate change sceptics, challenge me. I'm pissed off, frustrated and fuming like a power station chimney stack. I could do with a good intellectual wrestle to work it all out of my system. But be warned - you may lose the debate. However, before long, you - and your children - may thank you for doing so.