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Posts Tagged ‘severe weather’

In my neck of the woods, just north of Boston, we got pretty lucky during Hurricane Sandy’s barrage. After the downing of a few tree branches and a couple of hours without power, our lives are back to normal. I’m extremely thankful for this and am regularly thinking about those communities that weren’t so lucky. People in New York City and several cities and towns throughout the state of New Jersey are still cleaning up from the damage and will most likely be doing so for quite some time. My heart goes out to them.

Unfortunately, many meteorologists and scientists fear that storms like this one are bound to become more and more prevalent due to global climate change. Rising temperatures mean increased moisture in the atmosphere and rising sea levels. Increased atmospheric moisture has the tendency to increase the intensity of storms – leading to exponentially more rainfall. And rising sea levels put more coastal residents at risk of flooding; especially residents on the eastern coast of the United States where sea levels are rising three to four times faster than the global average. All of this means that “frankenstorms” like Sandy could be impacting Americans (and beyond) more regularly and more severely.

Today, on day four after Sandy, amid the storm damage coverage is a storm of political advertisements, accusations, testimonies, and general mudslinging. (Sidenote: did everyone see this? I feel much the same.) Election season is in full swing and for the time being, attention has been pulled away from national debt and the economy, the war in Afghanistan, abortion rights and tax reform. For the first time, climate change is being pulled into the conversation, and neither candidate seems thrilled about it.

The truth is, though, scientists and meteorologists are forced to talk about it. As are governors and mayors of cities and towns that stand to lose the most. I was struck just this morning by a news clip of Andrew Cuomo in New York City discussing his concern for the future of strong weather in NYC and the need for levees and storm walls. He went so far as to attribute Sandy and what he expects will be future catastrophic weather events to climate change – something NYC’s Mayor Bloomberg would not stretch to discuss.

While storms like Hurricane Sandy are extremely unfortunate, our political and economic climate has a history of avoiding productive discussions pertaining to climate change. Sandy inserted herself into this election and it may be just what it takes to get politicians speaking about the raw truth of rising water levels and increasing atmospheric moisture. Plans must be made. Legitimate efforts to reduce greenhouse gases are required. Sandy will be on my mind this election day. What about you?

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Starbucks has recently voiced concern over the impact of climate change on coffee supply.  Coffee crops have already been impacted by severe hurricanes and resistant pests and some scientists predict that the temperatures in the Ivory Coast and Ghana will be too high to grow coffee by 2050. For Starbucks, this is obviously an enormous risk to their supply chain and something that will need to be addressed to avoid shortages and profit losses over the next 10, 20 and 30 years.

As part of its mitigation efforts, Starbucks has joined a coalition of companies that are petitioning the US Government to take action on climate change. So far, their efforts have resulted in little progress. The coalition, including the Gap and other large and popular companies, will take a new approach next month. Instead of pleading for government action, each company will showcase how they are addressing the impacts of climate change upon their business. Actions include safeguarding their suppliers from climate change-related severe weather patterns, erosion and pests (when possible), as well as becoming ever more aware of their own impacts on climate change.

Absent any real legislative commitments to address climate change nationally and internationally, it appears as if our businesses, tethered by a responsibility to realize and mitigate risk, are at the wheel. Perhaps, as concerned citizens, our appeals should be focused not towards government but towards the companies that share those same concerns. Could our purchasing power be stronger than our voting power? Maybe its time we find out.

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