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

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.8143
JPY
USD
119.23
GBP
USD
0.6390
CAD
USD
1.1596
INR
USD
63.304

Rates may not be current.