News / Economy

Experts Ponder Costs Of Climate Change

Experts Ponder Costs Of Climate Changei
X
February 28, 2014 11:19 PM
Climate change is making it harder than usual for scientists to figure out what the future will bring and what impact weather changes will have on society and the economy. An upsurge of severe weather events has already destroyed homes, businesses and lives. As VOA's Jim Randle reports, some fairly simple changes may reduce the toll.
Climate change is making it harder than usual for scientists to figure out what the future will bring and what impact weather changes will have on society and the economy.  An upsurge of severe weather events has already destroyed homes, businesses and lives. Some fairly simple changes may reduce the toll.

In a laboratory test, a house built with conventional techniques is falling apart in hurricane-force winds. 
 
The survivor has stronger shingles, thicker roof boards, and metal straps holding floors together.

Wind tunnel tests were done by the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety.  It says stronger construction costs a little more, but holds up much better to extreme weather.   

The growing number of unusually strong storms, like Typhoon Haiyan, has convinced the Chairman of the U. S. Senate Homeland Security Committee, Tom Carper, that extreme weather is the “new norm.”

"Extreme weather events have increased in frequency over the past 50 years and are expected to become even more common, more intense, and more costly," said Carper.

Hurricane Sandy hit beachfront businesses along the U.S. East Coast, including Carper's home state.   Insurance companies had to pay out huge claims.  To limit such losses, the insurance industry can raise premiums for businesses in vulnerable locations and offer discounts to clients who make their buildings more resilient with upgraded construction techniques.

Managing risks is the job of insurance brokers like Kevin Connelly of the Graham Company, who spoke to VOA via Skype.

“We are either going to price your insurance at a huge markup, or we are not going to write (sell it) it at all, which is just as bad obviously," said Connelly.

Drought is another suspected consequence of climate change, and dry ground means more wildfires in California.  Current mathematical models of climate change do a poor job of predicting the economic impact of drought and other weather events, says Massachusetts Institute of Technology Professor Robert Pindyck, who spoke via Skype.   

“I think all we can do, taking all of that into account, is come up with some very rough numbers, very rough estimates, "said Pindyck. "Consensus estimates that maybe experts provide, that give us a view of what would the catastrophic outcome look like if we don’t do anything?”

To help deal with this serious problem, Pindyck says policymakers should take actions such as imposing a tax on carbon dioxide emissions.  A carbon tax would encourage companies and families to use less energy and generate fewer of the gases thought to be driving changes in the climate.  But other analysts say it is unlikely a new tax will get approval in the U.S. Congress any time soon.

You May Like

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.7305
JPY
USD
101.53
GBP
USD
0.5830
CAD
USD
1.0656
INR
USD
60.075

Rates may not be current.