As a former member of the Paris accords the United States has pledged to cut domestic greenhouse gases emissions by 26 to 28 percent by 2025, and also pledged to donate up to 3 billion in aid for poor countries who are less able to afford to pay for their own green energy infrastructure.
“There are no penalties for falling short of declared targets. The hope was that, through peer pressure and diplomacy, these policies would be strengthened over time.”
“Under the deal, the Obama administration pledged to cut domestic greenhouse gas emissions 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025 as well as to commit up to $3 billion in aid for poorer countries by 2020. (The United States has delivered $1 billion to date.) China vowed that its emissions would peak around 2030 and that it would get about 20 percent of its electricity from carbon-free sources by then. India would continue to reduce its carbon intensity, or CO2 output per unit of economic activity, in line with historical levels.”
“The brutal storm pummeling the Houston area is likely to rank as one of the nation’s costliest natural disasters, with tens of billions in lost economic activity and property damage across a region crucial to the energy, chemical and shipping industries.”
“There is little doubt that climate change made Harvey worse. Surface waters in the Gulf of Mexico are 2 degrees Fahrenheit warmer at this time of year than they were three decades ago, and Harvey tapped into that energy as it barreled onto the Texas coast. There is more water vapor in the atmosphere now to make rain than there used to be, because evaporation is increasing and warm air can hold more vapor than cold.”
“All over the world, extreme rainfall events are on the rise. The one in Texas this past week has so far killed more than 40 people in Houston, and the counties around it.”
“Risk Management Solutions (RMS), a global risk modeling firm, estimates the losses from Harvey to be as high as $70–$90 billion, most of it from flooding in Houston, where more than seven million properties are valued at a total of more than $1.5 trillion.”
“But the question persists: what should cities do as extreme rain storms becomes less rare? Harvey’s flood may have set records, but it is also the third “500-year” flood to hit Houston in the past three years. A 500-year flood is one that has a one in 500 chances of occurring in any given year — unless global warming is changing the odds.”
So, Mr. Duncan, although the total costs of donations including money needed for individual countries to reach desired reductions, is expensive, according to Risk Management Solutions, the losses from just one storm like Harvey could total about $70-$90 billion dollars.
If the United States has committed itself to donating up to 3 billion to help poor countries develop renewable energy sources and adapt to climate change, how does that cost compare with the 10 to approximately 24 times more in total damages related to global warming — including large loss of human lives during storms like these, which have proved to be much more economically burdening? So, the very large reductions that other nations have already pledged to make happen in only a modest period of time, will undoubtedly be needed to effectively respond to the frequent recurrences of storms like Hurricane Harvey?
So, either 3 billion paid out to help the rest of the world avoid global warming, or up to 70 billion in losses that will be needed to face the daunting task of rejuvenating the disaster area again, and again and again! — -you choose! But isn’t losing 3 billion a lot more devastating to our environment than taking the Chicago A train? The question persists: what should cities do as extreme rain becomes far less rare? Harvey’s flood may have set some records, but it’s also the third “500-year” flood to hit Houston in the past three years. A 500-year flood is one that has only a one in 500-year chance of occurring in any given year — unless global warming is changing the odds. And right now, millions of us lack the motivation to give a damn about scientific facts?