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

Multimedia Obama Defends Immigration Action

Obama says with his executive action on immigration, enforcement resources will be focused on 'felons, not families; criminals, not children' More

US-Led Airstrikes in Syria Kill Over 900: Monitoring Group

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the toll includes more than 50 civilians, five of them women and eight of them children More

Report: Obama Broadens US Combat Role in Afghanistan

The New York Times says resident Barack Obama has signed a classified order extending the role of US troops in Afghanistan for another year More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.8050
JPY
USD
117.90
GBP
USD
0.6376
CAD
USD
1.1259
INR
USD
61.655

Rates may not be current.