Big Business Finally Awakening To Dangers Of Climate Change

The most difficult form of denial to overcome is when powerful forces have a financial interest in hiding the truth. Today’s misinformation campaign against climate change being waged by the petroleum industry is remarkably similar to the tobacco industry’s campaign to deny the effects of cigarettes on health. The petroleum industry will continue to fund a campaign against the scientific consensus on global warming as long as they can get away with it. They know that whenever there is a fight to be waged by a small special interest against the common good, the Republican Party can be counted upon to back the special interest in return for campaign contributions. They can also count on conservatives to be easy to trick into following along as long as they repeat the correct right-wing mantras.

The petroleum industry now has more than just scientists to contend with. Other industries are realizing that climate change is both real and is affecting their bottom line. The New York Times reports:

Coca-Cola has always been more focused on its economic bottom line than on global warming, but when the company lost a lucrative operating license in India because of a serious water shortage there in 2004, things began to change.

Today, after a decade of increasing damage to Coke’s balance sheet as global droughts dried up the water needed to produce its soda, the company has embraced the idea of climate change as an economically disruptive force.

“Increased droughts, more unpredictable variability, 100-year floods every two years,” said Jeffrey Seabright, Coke’s vice president for environment and water resources, listing the problems that he said were also disrupting the company’s supply of sugar cane and sugar beets, as well as citrus for its fruit juices. “When we look at our most essential ingredients, we see those events as threats.”

Coke reflects a growing view among American business leaders and mainstream economists who see global warming as a force that contributes to lower gross domestic products, higher food and commodity costs, broken supply chains and increased financial risk. Their position is at striking odds with the longstanding argument, advanced by the coal industry and others, that policies to curb carbon emissions are more economically harmful than the impact of climate change.

“The bottom line is that the policies will increase the cost of carbon and electricity,” said Roger Bezdek, an economist who produced a report for the coal lobby that was released this week. “Even the most conservative estimates peg the social benefit of carbon-based fuels as 50 times greater than its supposed social cost.”

Some tycoons are no longer listening.

At the Swiss resort of Davos, corporate leaders and politicians gathered for the annual four-day World Economic Forum will devote all of Friday to panels and talks on the threat of climate change. The emphasis will be less about saving polar bears and more about promoting economic self-interest.

The irony is that many of the right wingers conned into opposing the scientific consensus have been misled to believe that there is some sort of conspiracy to use climate change to destroy the economy. The reality is that those of use who are concerned about preserving our economy realize that climate change is one of the most serious challenges we fact.