Seriously deranged people (or bought and paid for shills) attack the scientific consensus opinion that climate change is occurring at an ever accelerating rate as a result of greenhouse gas emissions (especially carbon dioxide). However, no one has ever accused Price Waterhouse Coopers, the second largest professional services firm in the world, of a lack of seriousness when it comes to analysing the risks of investments.
So when Price Waterhouse releases a study that suggests municipal bond rating companies are not taking into account the long term consequences of one of the effects of climate change, water scarcity, thus putting at risk the investments of municipal bond purchasers, I, for one, take note:
Water and electric power utilities face growing financial risks from water scarcity, but the credit rating agencies that rate municipal bonds largely ignore the problem, leaving bond buyers missing some important information, says a new report by Ceres and PricewaterhouseCoopers. […]
Many analysts assume that future water availability will closely follow what it’s been in the past, even though trends around the country show that it’s likely to be quite different, said Sharlene Leurig, the lead author of the report. Leurig works at Ceres, a coalition of environmental groups and investors, on environmental risks for insurers. Some, such as life insurance companies, buy 30-year bonds.
The PwC backed study indicates that bonds related to municipally operated water utilities in the Southeast, West and Southwest are most at risk due to the long term droughts that have resulted in greater water scarcity in those areas of the country. Yet, in a pattern eerily familiar to anyone who watched AAA ratings being handed out like candy on Halloween for securities backed by Collateralized Debt Obligations and associated financial derivatives during the overheated real estate bubble of the last decade, the rating companies are once again ignoring a significant investment risk in their assessment of Municipal bonds.
Of course, Price Waterhouse is not alone in accepting that the environmental impacts brought about by climate change must be taken into consideration when evaluating future risks, be they economic risks (see, e.g., large insurance firms) …
“We see raising claims due to natural catastrophes and have a vested interest in reducing global warming,” says Allianz board member Clement Booth. “Our industry has been at the forefront of this debate for a long time.”
Climate change is one of the great challenges that the insurance business has to meet. Small wonder that some of the most-detailed scenarios for the future of our planet are commissioned by insurance companies.
The changing global climate will pose profound strategic challenges to the United States in coming decades, raising the prospect of military intervention to deal with the effects of violent storms, drought, mass migration and pandemics, military and intelligence analysts say. […]
Such climate-induced crises could topple governments, feed terrorist movements or destabilize entire regions, say the analysts, experts at the Pentagon and intelligence agencies who for the first time are taking a serious look at the national security implications of climate change.
and public heath risks …
The methods for addressing the health consequences of climate change, as evident in this review, are those of public health and disease control generally. […]
The consequences of climate change for health range from being quite specific (e.g., heat waves), to general (e.g., increased exposure to air pollution), and from being acute in nature (e.g., infectious
disease outbreaks), to longer‐term (e.g., changes in allergic diseases associated with shifts in aeroallergens). For some of the health consequences of climate change—such as emerging infections and heat waves—adaptation will take place through the routine functioning of effective public health systems, if in place. Some, such as allergic diseases, will be managed through routine medical care, and others, including increased emissions of air pollution, will be addressed through regulatory mechanisms.
… to name but a few.
Yet, which Republican candidates running for office this year have come out in support for any policy options that address the threat posed by climate change to our economy, our national security and our health? If you can name one, I’d like to know who that individual is, because I have yet to identify any Republican who takes climate change issues seriously. Even those that formerly made noises that they recognized and understood the danger have backtracked shamelessly on this issue.
Perhaps all the money being dumped into this election cycle by corporations with a vested interest in insuring we continue to rely on energy derived from old dirty technologies and resources such as fossil fuels has kept their mouths shut and held them back from proposing any solutions, good or bad, to tackle this this issue. Or perhaps they truly are in denial about the danger to our planet, their view so warped by ideological blinders that they reject out of hand any information about climate change that conflicts with their rigid and emotionally stunted views.
But the smart people, the people who are paid money understand the implications of climate change for their businesses, those who are charged with protecting and enhancing our nation’s security and economic strength, and also those who must prepare for dealing the health risks to our its citizen if we refuse to grapple with the future consequences of our failure to address climate change cannot afford such a cavalier and ignorant attitudes. While our politicians flounder around and do nothing (or in the case of conservatives and Republicans, while the dirty energy industries dependent on fossil fuel extraction and use spread their propaganda and lies about this very real and present danger to our nation (much as the tobacco companies lied and spread disinformation about the danger of smoking), these people are doing all they can to plan for a future in which the consequences of unmitigated climate change poses innumerable challenges and risks for life in the 21st Century.
The great failure of our generation has been to allow a few powerful, wealthy and influential special interests through their money and their ability to misinform the public to manufacture a “controversy” and take control of the “debate” over global warming and climate change. This would never have become a political issue at all had we as a people had the common sense to recognize that those with an agenda to preserve their bottom line will do anything to create ambiguity where none exists, and will lie and defame those who merely point out the truth when that truth threatens their profits.
That climate change must be dealt with should not be a conservative vs. liberal or Democratic vs. republican issue. One can legitimately argue about what should be done, but sadly legitimate discourse is impossible in the present (pardon the pun) climate of fear, distortion of the truth and corruption in which our Republic’s political affairs are now conducted. In that regard, it is emblematic of all that is wrong with our political system and our society.