Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Climate Evangelist tells the Business Community that we are Close to Tipping Points

When it comes to climate change, we may be getting to a tipping point from which we will not be able to recover.  This is the view of Henry Cisneros who served as housing secretary in the Clinton administration and mayor of San Antonio. He is a real estate expert who now spends much of his time talking to the business sector.

As he explained in an interview with NBC News,  Cisneros said discussed climate change impacts on cities and real estate from sea level rise and inundation. He cited the risks to cities like Miami, Norfolk, New Orleans and Houston and he specifically mentioned the energy refineries along the Houston Ship Channel.

He also said that extreme heat will constitute a problem from Arizona into the upper Midwest. This will have implications for "issues like droughts and their impact on agriculture, as well as the price of water, permitting of water for development, implications for energy prices because of the air conditioning requirements and implications for things like worker activity and how many hours workers can put in in the course of a day working construction on the top of a hot roof," Cisneros said.

With regard to the response from the business community he said, "The hope is that when business people pay attention, when this is starkly drawn for them, that their economic motives will kick in and suddenly it will not be a conversation about the environment, it will not be a conversation about the science, it will not be a conversation about the ripeness of it, the moral issues, but it will be a conversation about practical business.

This is going to cost us. It's clear that business people need to be making decisions, at which point business people become interested in the policy issues, because now we are talking money. Always, when business weighs in, public opinion is influenced."

Cisneros expressed his disappointment that these issues get politicized. "Today it's not possible for many Republicans to talk about the impact of climate change, as obvious as it is, because it's been made into one of those litmus test issues for Republicans who will then be judged as soft on conservative values if they then adopt some climate change conclusions," Cisneros said.

Climate change requires our urgent attention because as he explains, "with every week that passes, with every month that passes, with every year that passes, the implications get more and more serious. We're moving toward points of no return where the cumulative effect of the damage becomes a spiral downward from which the systems cannot recover"

When asked about President Obama he said that,"the president has done a great deal to indicate this is a serious issue and a priority and has done some things he can do with his own powers,"

He went on to say that he thinks, "one of the most important things a national administration can do is to set the climate of incentives, to set the framework of incentives, so we can multiply what the federal government can do with initiatives at the local level."

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