News anchors are describing Hurricane Sandy as a once in a lifetime event. Climate science suggests it is only the beginning. The question is whether Hurricane Sandy is the climate change event that reawakens awareness by the media and consumers to global warming’s costs?
“Warmer Than Normal”
Shepard Smith the anchor for Fox News described the cause of Hurricane Sandy as “warmer than normal” ocean temperatures. He is right. With math being a main topic in this upcoming Presidential election it is appropriate that we all memorize the following number from 350.org:
The Earth’s average global temperature has risen between 1.5 and 2 degrees Fahrenheit over the past century.
Warmer temperatures mean that the atmosphere holds about 4% more moisture than it did in 1970.
Why Is A Hurricane Landing In The Northeast In October?
Jeff Masters, hurricane tracker and weatherman, reports that the mid-Atlantic water temperature this year is 5°F warmer than average. This warmer temperature enables a hurricane to maintain its energy as it travels farther north. It also brings with it “an unusually large amount of water vapor available to make heavy rain.” But why is it warmer. The scientific answer not reported by the mass media is global warming created by man-made green house gas emissions.
End Climate Silence
A demonstration was held in New York City just prior to Hurricane Sandy making landfall that included a huge banner stating “End Climate Silence.” The Yale Project on Climate Change Communications reports that 70% of Americans now say they believe global warming is a reality, the highest level since 2008. Tellingly, those surveyed cited increased weather volatility as the main reason for their belief in climate change.
Yet, even with this shift in American beliefs, I failed to hear any of the TV and cable news reports during their first twenty-four hours of Hurricane Sandy coverage mention the words “climate change” or “global warming.” But maybe this silence is now being broken. Businessweek just posted a telling article entitled, “It’s Global Warming, Stupid!”
The Cost of Climate Change Silence
The price of climate science silence is higher costs and human suffering. This winter we will all be paying more for food as the full impact of this past summer’s drought hits at our cash registers. The initial estimate of the property damage from Hurricane Sandy is $20 billion. The economic cost of climate change pales in comparison to the deaths and human suffering this mega-storm has inflicted from the Caribbean to Canada.
Consumers Key To Ending Climate Change Silence
The American consumer is still the world’s largest economic engine representing more buying power than any other country. The path to ending this climate science silence ultimately rests upon the shoulders of the American consumer. Businesses are taking steps to integrate sustainability into their business practices. But these steps can only go as far as the American consumer demands. If the lowest price continues to be the driving buying determinate then businesses will continue to make this their highest priority. Only when the American consumers thinks about the price of climate change silence while at the gas pump will there be meaningful change. Only when consumers compare the human/environmental benefits of energy efficiency to the environmental consequences of coal fired electric power will we see meaningful results in the reduction of green house gas emissions. The world’s commerce will forever be reformed when the American consumer picks up a low-priced Chinese product and reconsiders their purchase because China is now the world’s mega polluter.
The Great News: Solutions Are Available At Local Retailer
The great news is that the solutions to climate change can be purchased today at the consumers’ local retailer. Here are just two of hundreds of solutions. LED lighting uses 90% less energy than the old Edison light bulb. Electric hybrids like the Chevy Volt (which can now be leased for $299 per month) deliver 100 miles per gallon. American businesses are pioneering sustainable competitive solutions. Their technology solutions also create the jobs we need. What they need are customers. They need the American consumer.
Bill Roth is the Founder of Earth 2017. He coaches businesses on proven best practices in pricing, marketing and operations that make money and create a positive difference. His book The Secret Green Sauce profiles pioneering best practices by businesses that are proving to win customers and grow product revenues by offering price competitive smarter, healthier and greener solutions.