A Balanced Look At Climate Change


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A Balanced Look At Climate Change

  1. 1. A Balanced Look at Climate Change A Balanced Look at Climate Change Professor Hector R Rodriguez School of Business Mount Ida College Business, Society & Environment
  2. 2. <ul><li>Society </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The Corporation and Its Stakeholders </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Corporate Citizenship </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The Social Responsibility of Business </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The Shareholder Primacy Norm </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>CSR, Citizenship and Sustainability Reporting </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Responsible Investing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The Community and the Corporation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Taxation and Corporate Citizenship </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Corporate Philanthropy Programs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Employees and the Corporation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Managing a Diverse Workforce </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Environment </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A Balanced Look at Climate Change </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Non-anthropogenic Causes of Climate Change </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Sulfates, Urban Warming and Permafrost </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Conventional Energy </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The Kyoto Protocol </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Green Building </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Green Information Technology </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Transportation, Electric Vehicles and the Environment </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Geo-Engineering </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Carbon Capture and Storage </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Renewable Energy </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Solid, Toxic and Hazardous Waste </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Forests, Paper and Carbon Sinks </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Life Cycle Analysis </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Water Use and Management </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Water Pollution </li></ul></ul>Course Map – Topics Covered in Course
  3. 3. <ul><li>This session aims to give you a balanced look at the arguments surrounding Climate Change </li></ul><ul><ul><li>As usual, when one loiters at an one extreme of any discussion, the arguments become “crystal clear,” when in fact they are anything but. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Surrounding Climate Change in particular, a few arguments seem to be settled, including the following: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>There is evidence of historical Climate Change </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Human activity is influencing CO 2 concentrations in the air </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>CO 2 is a greenhouse gas which traps heat in the atmosphere with the potential to increase temperatures throughout the world </li></ul></ul>Objective Many other hypotheticals are just that and should not be considered facts.
  4. 4. <ul><li>In this section I will present different perspectives regarding the potential impacts of Climate Change. </li></ul><ul><li>Perspective One – represented by organizations and individuals such as the IPCC and Al Gore </li></ul><ul><li>Perspective Two – represented by organizations and individuals such as the Copenhagen Consensus and Bjorn Lomborg </li></ul><ul><li>As you will see, current arguments are not crystal clear… </li></ul>Climate Change, What Does it Mean?
  5. 5. Argument 1 of 6 - Food
  6. 6. <ul><li>Crop productivity is projected to increase slightly at mid to high latitudes for local mean temperature increases of up to 1 to 3°C depending on the crop, and then decrease beyond that in some regions. </li></ul><ul><li>At lower latitudes , especially in seasonally dry and tropical regions, crop productivity is projected to decrease for even small local temperature increases (1 to 2°C), which would increase the risk of hunger. </li></ul>Source: The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, “Climate Change 2007: Synthesis Report,” 2007 IPCC on Food
  7. 7. <ul><li>Globally, the potential for food production is projected to increase with increases in local average temperature over a range of 1 to 3°C, but above this it is projected to decrease </li></ul>Source: The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, “Climate Change 2007: Synthesis Report,” 2007 IPCC on Food
  8. 8. <ul><li>Food availability has increased dramatically over the last four decades ; the average person in the developing world has experienced a 40% increase in available calories, while the proportion of malnourished has dropped from 50 to 17%. </li></ul><ul><li>A few large scale surveys have looked at the effect of climate change on agricultural production together with the global food trade system. Crucial findings: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>All models envision a large increase in agricultural output </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>In worst case scenarios this means a 7% yield decrease in the developing world (still an overall increase of 270% by 2100). </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>CO 2 in itself accounts as a positive factor, since it acts as fertilizer, making crops grow more everywhere. </li></ul></ul>Copenhagen Consensus on Food Source: Bjorn Lomborg, “Cool It”: September 4, 2007
  9. 9. Argument 2 of 6 - Extreme Weather Events
  10. 10. <ul><li>Industry, settlements and society </li></ul>Extreme Weather Events <ul><ul><li>What’s clear - The most vulnerable industries, settlements and societies are generally those in coastal and river flood plains, those whose economies are closely linked with climate-sensitive resources and those in areas prone to extreme weather events. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>While the data on the right seems to confirm this, the trend lacks appropriate context (see next slide). </li></ul>http://www.globalchange.gov/publications/reports/scientific-assessments/us-impacts/full-report/climate-change-impacts-by-sector/society
  11. 11. <ul><li>In Florida, Dade and Broward counties are today home to more people than lived in 1930 in all 109 coastal counties from Texas to Virginia. </li></ul><ul><li>If the 1926 Great Miami Hurricane had hit today, it would have created the worst damage ever in the United States.* </li></ul>*Pielke, Roger (2006), Normalized Hurricane Damages in the United States: 1900-2005 Extreme Weather Events 1930 2006 Same population in both outlined areas
  12. 12. <ul><li>The recent increase in societal impact from tropical cyclones seems then to largely have been caused by rising concentrations of population and infrastructure in coastal regions, not by increasing hurricane strength. </li></ul>*Pielke, Roger (2006), Normalized Hurricane Damages in the United States: 1900-2005 Extreme Weather Events
  13. 13. <ul><li>Global warming eventually will increase precipitation, especially heavy rains; this will lead to more flooding </li></ul><ul><li>Increased rains however does not seem to be translating into flooding in rivers; this holds true in a sample of over 200 rivers. </li></ul><ul><li>When studying U.S. rivers we see increasing precipitation causing increasing stream flows, but this happens mostly during the fall, when there is generally lower flow and little risk of flooding. </li></ul><ul><li>As with hurricanes, economic losses hold the key </li></ul>Copenhagen Consensus on Flooding Rivers
  14. 14. Argument 3 of 6 - Rising Sea Levels
  15. 15. <ul><li>Coasts </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Sea levels will rise 12-18 inches by 2100 (high confidence) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Note: sea levels have risen approximately 12 inches in the last hundred years </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Coasts are projected to be exposed to increasing risks, including coastal erosion, due to climate change and sea level rise. The effect will be exacerbated by increasing human-induced pressures on coastal areas ( very high confidence ). </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>By the 2080s, many millions more people than today are projected to experience floods every year due to sea level rise. The numbers affected will be largest in the densely populated and low-lying megadeltas of Asia and Africa while small islands are especially vulnerable ( very high confidence ). </li></ul></ul>Source: The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, “Climate Change 2007: Synthesis Report,” 2007 Issues of Future Climate Changes
  16. 16. Al Gore on Rising Sea Levels <ul><li>Al Gore – “Here we see how large parts of Florida, including all of Miami, will be inundated by 20 feet of water.” </li></ul>
  17. 17. <ul><li>“ The IPCC says one foot, Gore says 20 feet, how so? He simply says “If Greenland melted or broke up and half of Antarctica melted of broke up and slipped into the sea, sea levels worldwide would increase by 18-20 feet.” He is simply posting a hypothetical.” Bjorn Lomborg in Cool It </li></ul><ul><li>Statements like these (Gore’s), which aim to alert at best, scare at worst, are not beneficial when we try to bring credibility to an argument. </li></ul><ul><li>As business people, we must stay away from them… </li></ul>Rising Sea Levels
  18. 18. <ul><li>A 2006 Science paper by Eric Rignot documented increasing runoff from the main ice sheet and peripheral glaciers at a rate of 53 +/- cubic miles, a seemingly large number </li></ul><ul><li>Greenland’s ice mass is estimated at 6.8 x 10 5 cubic miles </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The loss equals 8 thousandths of a percent per year, translating to a sea level rise of two hundredths of an inch per year </li></ul></ul>Greenland
  19. 19. Argument 4 of 6 - Droughts
  20. 20. <ul><li>Water </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Widespread mass losses from glaciers and reductions in snow cover over recent decades are projected to accelerate throughout the 21st century, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>This will reduce water availability , hydropower potential, and change seasonality of flows in regions supplied by meltwater from major mountain ranges. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>There is also high confidence that many semi-arid areas (e.g. the Mediterranean Basin, western United States, southern Africa and north-eastern Brazil) will suffer a decrease in water resources due to climate change. </li></ul></ul>Source: The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, “Climate Change 2007: Synthesis Report,” 2007 IPCC on Droughts
  21. 21. <ul><li>The water-stress index looks at how much water is available per person and counts people with less than 1,000 m 3 (seven gallons per day) as highly water stressed. </li></ul><ul><li>When looking forward to future years, it is clear that more people are going to be water stressed, as a consequence of an increasing population. </li></ul>World Water Report
  22. 22. <ul><li>The UK’s Fast Track Assessment concludes that global warming actually reduces the number of people living in water-stressed areas, with less water stress in warmer scenarios than in colder ones. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>This is because a warmer world also means more precipitation, in general models predict about 5% more precipitation by 2100. Some parts will get drier, especially the Mediterranean area, central and southern Africa, and the southern United States. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>In total however (including wetter western Africa), with warming we have an Africa where 24 million fewer will be water stressed </li></ul></ul><ul><li>In its 2006 World Water Report, the UN summarizes that the lack of water “is primarily driven by an inefficient supply of services rather than by water shortages.” </li></ul>More on Water Shortages
  23. 23. Argument 5 of 6 - Heat Wave
  24. 24. <ul><li>Models show that heat events we now see every twenty years will become much more frequent, every three years by the end of the century </li></ul><ul><li>This confirms the prospect that we could be seeing many more heat deaths, a tragedy that will indeed be caused by global warming </li></ul><ul><li>But cold spells will decrease just as much as heat waves increase. In areas where there is one cold spell every three years, by the end of the century those would happen only once every twenty years </li></ul>Heat Deaths, Way of the Future? Source: Bjorn Lomborg, “Cool It”: September 4, 2007
  25. 25. <ul><li>The heat wave in Europe in early August 2003 was a catastrophe; the death toll ran to more than 35,000 </li></ul><ul><li>While thirty-five thousand dead is a terrifyingly large number, we should look at the number in context: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>2,000 people died from heat in the United Kingdom in 2003, yet 47,000 cold deaths were reported on average between 1998-2000 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>It is remarkable that a single heat-death episode of 35,000 from many countries can get everyone up in arms, while cold deaths of 25-50,000 a year in a single country pass almost unnoticed. </li></ul></ul>Death in Europe Source: Bjorn Lomborg, “Cool It”: September 4, 2007
  26. 26. <ul><li>Several recent studies have looked at adaptation in up to 28 of the biggest cities in the United States. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>In Philadelphia, the optimal temperature seems to be about 80 o F. In the 1960’s, when it got hotter (100 o F), the death rate increased sharply. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Yet something happened in the decades following, temperatures in the 100 o F today cause almost no excess deaths. We actually learned to adapt to higher temperatures. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Consequently we could experience fewer deaths even when temperatures rise. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Urban heat islands are already affecting cities around the world, with Tokyo experiencing a differential of more than 20 o F from its suburbs. </li></ul>Adapting to Heat Source: Bjorn Lomborg, “Cool It”: September 4, 2007
  27. 27. Argument 6 of 6 - Polar Bears
  28. 28. <ul><li>“ It's no secret that polar bears are in deep trouble; there are only between 20,000 and 25,000 of them left in the world.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Perhaps the best studied of the groups is the Western Hudson Bay population, which scientists have been monitoring since the 1960s.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ For decades, membership of the group remained relatively stable, at about 1,200 adults and cubs. Between 1987 and 1994, however — precisely the years in which the rise in global temperatures have become the most evident — the number plummeted to 935, or a die-off of 22%.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ It's not just the fact that the bears are dying that's so alarming, but the way they're dying — and all of it points to a warmer world.” </li></ul>Polar Bears are Dying - Time
  29. 29. <ul><li>The report relied extensively on research published in 2001 by the Polar Bear Specialist Group of the World Conservation Union </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What the group indicated was that of the twenty distinct subpopulations of polar bears, one or possibly two were declining in Baffin Bay; more than half were known to be stable; and two subpopulations were actually increasing around Beaufort Sea. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Moreover, it is reported that the global polar bear population has increased dramatically over the past few decades, from about five thousand members in the 1960’s to twenty five thousand today, through stricter hunting regulation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Contrary to what we may expect, the two populations in decline come from areas where it has actually been getting colder over the past fifty years. </li></ul></ul>Polar Bears are Dying – Behind the Story
  30. 30. <ul><li>At times, we hear claims that are not supported by data. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>While it is likely that disappearing ice will force them to change their lifestyle, over the past forty years the populations have increased and are now stable. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Polar bears are not the only story. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>While we hear about the troubled species, it is also a fact that many species will do better with climate change; higher temperatures mean more nesting birds and more butterflies. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Our worries makes us focus on the wrong solutions. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>If indeed the polar bear population was going down, stricter hunting regulations would have a swifter effect (and did) than trying to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. </li></ul></ul>The Polar Bear Story Teaches Us Three Things Source: Bjorn Lomborg, “Cool It”: September 4, 2007 We must choose to remain open-minded and free from passionate extremism
  31. 31. Alarmist Language and its Effects
  32. 32. <ul><li>Note how the descriptions typically talk only about the impending problems and conspicuously leave out any positive consequences. </li></ul><ul><li>The descriptions tend toward hyperbole; </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Once the freeze starts, it will be too late…” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ The surface temperature of the whole North Atlantic has cooled one eight of the way back to full ice age conditions…” </li></ul></ul>Alarmist Language and its Effects Again the key is to remain open-minded and free from passionate extremism
  33. 33. <ul><li>Sea levels will rise about a foot over the next 100 years causing social and economic challenges </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Sea levels have risen about a foot over the last 150 years with limited (though catastrophic to individuals) impact </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Many will die due to increasing heat waves </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Many will be saved through significantly less cold deaths </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Polar Bears may be at risk due to global warming </li></ul><ul><ul><li>More polar bears can be saved by less hunting than by reductions of CO 2 </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Glaciers will continue to melt at an ever increasing pace </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Glacier meltdown will provide more fresh water over next 50 years </li></ul></ul>A Balanced Conclusion
  34. 34. <ul><li>Human activity is increasing the levels of CO 2 in the atmosphere </li></ul><ul><li>CO 2 is a greenhouse gas </li></ul><ul><li>Greenhouse gases trap heat </li></ul>A Balanced Conclusion (cont.) While current public discourse is fraught with hyperbole and hypotheticals, what cannot be obscured is that the current trend of ever increasing greenhouse gas emissions cannot continue at the current rate for much longer if we are to have a sustainable future.
  35. 35. <ul><li>A comprehensive strategy to mitigate the risk associated with GHG emissions must be implemented. It should include the following steps: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Developing renewable sources of energy </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Implementing comprehensive International Protocols </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Establishing emission trading markets (Cap & Trade) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Increasing efficiency (in buildings, IT, transportation) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Implementing engineering controls (geo-engineering, CCS) </li></ul></ul>A Balanced Conclusion (cont.) We’ll discuss each one of these potential steps in future sessions…