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December 04, 2016
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A little moral outrage, please

According to a recent estimate in the journal Science, climate change costs the world economy $1.2 trillion annually. Leading the way in sounding the alarm for business is the insurance industry, and no wonder. Insurers reportedly expect to pay close to half of the $140 billion in economic losses caused by natural catastrophes and man-made disasters in 2012, according to Swiss Re Group, the world’s largest wholesale re-insurance company.

Swiss Re reports that the top five insurance losses in the world in 2012 were all in the U.S. (Other continents took their turns in 2010 and 2011.) Insured losses from Hurricane Sandy will range from $20 to $25 billion dollars. The drought in the heartland from July through September will cost insurers $11 billion.

Severe storms and tornadoes in March and April will cost $2.8 billion and the June “derecho” storm that passed to our south will cost $2 billion.

PricewaterhouseCoopers, in a November publication stated, “Now one thing is clear: businesses, governments and communities across the world need to plan for a warming world.” And earlier this year, global business consultants KPMG listed climate change first among its “global sustainability megaforces that will affect the future of every business.” Having more businesses join the conversation would be another important and needed contribution.

While everyone knows about the risks of climate change—higher temperatures, rising seas, increased risk of drought, stronger storms, heat-related illness, the spread of disease, economic losses—still the world dithers. The truth is, if we keep dithering, we will be in trouble, or rather, our children will be in trouble.

Many solutions have been proposed. The time has come to get serious about instituting them, particularly in the U.S., which has failed as a world leader in the arena of climate change. In 2013, we need to support fully the development of renewables and to impose a carbon tax. We need the U.S. to work again with other countries on this issue. It is time for the U.S. to be a world leader again, and this issue provides the perfect opportunity.