Sunday, October 14, 2007

Preventive Measures to Curb Damage from Climate Change: How Close Are They? :: Can the world prepare to face the potential economic fallout from increasingly intense weather phenomena, prolonged heat waves, desertification, ice-melt and flooding? While there is no clear proof Hurricane Katrina was a direct result of climate change, hurricanes of such intensity will become increasingly frequent as Gulf waters warm; the aftermath provides real instruction for just how fragile the social fabric can be in the face of natural disaster.

A major US city and one of the world's major ports famously collapsed in the face of overwhelming inundation; society unraveled and the horrors were widely reported, with the military deployed to "pacify" the afflicted population. One of the great lessons is that that aftermath was likely wholly preventable, had warnings been heeded and the proper measures put in place.

One of the most common arguments against comprehensive action to halt or slow climate change or to reduce carbon emissions or penalize polluters is that it would "hurt the economy". This is, first of all, shamefully unimaginative, and second, entirely untrue. There is no reason that the enormous amount of spending involved in overhauling global industry and transportation should in any way represent an obstacle to economic growth. Quite the contrary, it may be the biggest boom on record, if spending on innovation, sustainability and development, are properly encouraged.

Governments have a role to play, but private business will have to stoop dragging its feet. Until now, caution in committing to clean energy solutions has been short-sighted and ill-advised. From now on, it may be fundamentally dangerous: society as a whole needs the economic elasticity provided by sustainable fuel sources, and businesses need to adapt now to the coming climate crunch, which will highly regulate destructive activities, such as pollution. [Complete Text]

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