Last week’s New York Times op ed by ex-U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson (The Energy Mix, July 3) was just part of the coverage of Risky Business, a chilling report on the trillions of dollars in economic losses the U.S. could see this century as a result of climate change. “The greatest economic impacts will come in the form of vast losses to coastal property, a steep decline in worker productivity, devastation to agriculture and productive forests, and soaring energy costs,” Rheannon reports. And “here’s the thing. The report didn’t mention this, but any one of those impacts could set off a financial crisis that could dwarf the 2008 crash.” With Paulson, ex-Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, billionaire climate activist Tom Steyer, ex-New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and others onstage to release the report, “a panel composed largely of Masters of the Universe told the American business community that it was time to get serious about global warming.”
Fort McMurray, Alberta and other energy towns have become focal points for a cluster of intense debates: between renewable and non-renewable energy development, between job creation in the oil fields and cancer clusters in nearby First Nations communities, between the economic boost of a fossil fuel boom and the economic devastation of unchecked climate change. But too often, the towns themselves are left behind in a national and international conversation that rarely touches on the human and social impacts of the boomtown economy. Those impacts, and the community response, are playing out from Alberta, to North Dakota, to Colorado and Ohio.
The Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC) and MIT are launching a new method of measuring the embedded carbon in electronic products, writes Degher, manager of the Worldwide LCA and Conflict Minerals Program at Hewlett-Packard. Until now, she says, the life cycle data available to help customers assess the carbon footprint of their IT purchases has been “highly variable,” most notably because a large share of that carbon is emitted during manufacture and transport. The new approach uses “standardized, product-specific allocation methods that link facility-wide carbon data to the specific product types manufactured within that facility.”
This post dates back to mid-March, but it covers ground that’s worth keeping in mind in any discussion of energy and climate: fossil fuels are faltering and the renewables are rising in spite of a massive imbalance in government subsidies in favour of fossil fuels.