The Energy Collective, November 25, 2012
By Gary Rondeau
The debate is heating up over the transport of coal from mines in Wyoming and Colorado to West Coast ports, where the coal will be shipped to Asian markets. Combining the vast appetite for coal in Asia with the vast stores of underground carbon in the US will accelerate the already rapid rise in atmospheric carbon. However, business friendly policies have made it almost impossible to do anything about this impending disaster. In the US, interstate transportation is a federal matter, and local authorities have no voice in policy decisions. On the international front, free trade agreements make it very difficult to restrict private buying and selling of anything. As a result, there are few tools available to prevent what is sure to be an international environmental catastrophe.
What are the real costs? There is a new study released September 2012 by DARA, an independent humanitarian organization. The Climate Vulnerability Monitor 2nd Edition is a comprehensive look at the consequences of our carbon economy and climate change that we are saddled with today and in the near future. The bottom line (and there is much more than just the bottom line in this report – so follow the link and read it!) is that right now the global community is suffering economic losses due to climate change and costs associated with a carbon based economy to the tune of about 1.6% of global GDP, increasing to 3.2% of GDP by 2030. This is a conservative report which minimizes the costs associated with dramatic natural disasters and incorporates a multitude of studies from many international experts.