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“Money Talks”: A Climate Change Argument That May Even Work On Conservatives

We may find out if Republicans actually do trust the free market.

For years, activists have been touting the fact that 97 percent of climate scientists agree that climate change is manmade, hoping that would inspire Republicans — who first advanced the idea of a cap-and-trade system to slow carbon emissions — to break their pledge to the Koch brothers and do something about the coming climate crisis.

It didn’t work.

A recent poll found a majority of Republicans — 58 percent — believe that climate change is a hoax. This explains why the right-wing media regularly laughs at the idea of doing anything to slow carbon emissions.

But there’s one group that seems to believe 100 percent that climate change is real and a serious threat to their existence. It’s the group that has the most to lose if we do nothing: the insurance industry.

The Weekly Standard‘s Eli Lehrer explains:

Indeed, if free-market conservatives really want evidence of climate change, they ought to look towards the insurance markets that would bear much of the cost of catastrophic climate change. All three of the major insurance modeling firms and every global insurance company incorporate human-caused climate change into their projections of current and future weather patterns. The big business that has the most to lose from climate change, and that would reap the biggest rewards if it were somehow solved tomorrow, has universally decided that climate change is a real problem. An insurance company that ignored climate change predictions could, in the short term, make a lot of money by underpricing its competition on a wide range of products. Not a single firm has done this.

In fact, a recent report from the Geneva Association, “Warming of the Oceans and Implication for the (Re)insurance Industry,” suggests that climate change is making certain regions — including Florida and the United Kingdom — uninsurable.

Lehrer argues that the free market way to deal with a free market problem is the same solution offered by pioneering climate scientist James Hansen — a carbon tax:

Since carbon emissions do present a real problem, simply repealing the current regulations without replacing them would be both unwise and politically impossible. The least-intrusive and most economically beneficial way to deal with the problem appears to be a carbon tax, particularly a revenue-neutral carbon tax that could be used to offset and/or replace other taxes.

According to that Koch pledge, which has been signed by a majority of Republicans in Congress, any carbon tax would have to be matched by an “equivalent amount of tax cuts,” which would likely violate Grover Norquist’s tax pledge. It’s a predicament that typifies the structural obstruction that binds the modern GOP.

But money talks. Perhaps when they can’t insure their Palm Beach homes, the cost of inaction will be too much for even this Republican Party.


By: Jason Sattler, The National Memo, July 8, 2013

July 9, 2013 Posted by | Climate Change | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Global Warming: The Disaster We Refuse To See Coming

There are disasters we can’t see coming, and then there are disasters we refuse to see coming. That an earthquake (and tsunami) of biblical proportions would crack open nuclear power plants along the coast of Japan is the sort of catastrophe that’s very difficult to predict. On the other hand, the consequences of a large increase in the volume of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are not hard to predict. The precise effects of climate change may be uncertain — though that does not make them any less dire — but we know, in a rough way, what will happen: the earth will warm. In fact, it’s already warming. Has been for decades. You can see it clear as day on any graph of global temperatures. You can see it in the record books, too: Of the 10 hottest years on record, nine were in the Aughts, and the last was in 1998.

This is a disaster, however, that we refuse to see coming. On Monday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee marked up Republican-backed legislation to bar the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gases. Democrats proposed a series of amendments that simply admitted the reality of global warming — they didn’t require regulation or a carbon tax. Just an admission of the state of the science. Rep. Diana DeGette’s amendment was particularly careful in its language: “’The scientific evidence is compelling’ that elevated concentrations of greenhouse gases resulting from anthropogenic emissions ‘are the root cause of recently observed climate change,’” it read. Not one of the 31 Republicans on the committee voted for it, or any of the amendments. Not one. Confronted by one of the most significant threats our planet faces, the 31 House Republicans charged with coordinating America’s response refused to even admit the underlying facts. “I would say it’s not settled,” said Rep. Joe Barton.

So much of what goes wrong on the planet seems unjust. Humans are not to blame for the impersonal whims of tectonic plates, but they nevertheless suffer greatly for them. Global warming, however, is oddly fair: it is a consequence of actions we know that we’re taking, we have been warned of it long in advance and, if we are willing to cooperate among nations and marshal our resources and make some hard decisions, we have the tools at our disposal to mount a credible response. But it looks like we will refuse. Which actually is unfair, as those who will pay for our inaction will not be those who made the decision not to act. They’ll be our descendants, and disproportionately the residents of poorer nations that never emitted many greenhouse gases to begin with. For them, the question will be long-since settled. But it will also be much too late.

By: Ezra Klein, The Washington Post, March 16, 2011

March 16, 2011 Posted by | Climate Change, Disasters, Global Warming, Greenhouse Gases | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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