08 August 2019

How Climate Change Will Hit Home—and What We Can Do About It

Published in Releases and news

Neste

Written by Jeremy Baines

A majority of Americans believe that climate change could endanger their loved ones.[1] Yet some remain reluctant to make any modifications if the cost comes from their own pocket. In fact, 70 percent of people surveyed by the Associated Press would vote against a $10 fee added to their monthly power bill to fund renewable energy or clean air projects that remove the carbon emissions that cause global warming.[2] Forty percent oppose even $1 a month.[3]

That’s unfortunate, because doing nothing also has a cost. According to the National Climate Assessment released in late 2018, climate change from global warming could severely affect the U.S. economy.[4] No matter where you live, your family, neighbors, and your livelihood could be harmed if we don’t take affordable steps now to reduce carbon emissions. In fact, here are some of the risks we face:

Southwest

Increased temperatures could intensify droughts in California and nearby states, leading to 25 percent more wildfires.[5] Property owners can expect their insurance premiums to increase 18 percent for every $1,000 of coverage—if insurance companies don’t cancel their policies due to elevated risk.[6]

Northwest

Warming ocean temperatures and acidity could reduce the native salmon habitat by 22 percent, which translates into a $3 billion loss of jobs and fisheries-related business in the state of Washington alone.[7] Higher temperatures could increase the number of acres of forests lost due to wildfires and insects, significantly constricting timber industry revenue and bioenergy markets.[8]

Midwest

Higher temperatures, drought, and flooding could combine to lower corn crop yield by 75 percent and the soybean crop yield by 25 percent.[9] Individual farmers in Iowa, the leading corn-producing state, can expect to lose more than $100,000 a year[10] due to the reduced yield. Lower yields in turn could increase the price of food and beverages that contain corn products throughout the country.

Northeast

This densely populated and industrialized region is likely to experience the largest temperature increases of any area in the United States and ahead of the rest of the world.[11] Northeastern states are the most heavily forested in the country. Warmer seasonal temperatures are causing trees and plants to leaf out and bloom earlier, contributing to more insect pests,[12] which are destroying forests critical to the livelihood of the timber industry.

Southeast

Two-thirds of major cities in this region could experience worsening heat waves and more mosquito-borne illnesses, including West Nile virus, Zika virus, and malaria, as a direct result of higher temperatures and more frequent hurricanes.[13] Such conditions could increase costs for emergency services and medical care to deal with the aftermath.

What We Can Do Now

The projections above are based on decades of research reviewed by 360 experts and 14 U.S. government agencies.[14] It’s difficult to dispute the science that demonstrates climate change is real. What’s up for debate, though, is the amount of investment needed to solve the problem.

Working together for cleaner energy alternatives is a starting point. We need policymakers, businesses, and consumers to encourage a poly-fuel world that supplies more low-carbon or zero-carbon choices. There’s not one solution available now or foreseen to meet all of our energy needs for transportation, power generation, or even heating and cooling our homes. But fossil-fuel alternatives such as renewable diesel, refined by recycling food waste and cooking oil, are readily available today. They’re affordable to adopt. And more importantly, they present a priceless opportunity to protect our world from the high cost of climate change.

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Jeremy Baines is vice president of sales for North America and the acting general manager at Neste US, Inc.

Sources

[1] Robinson Meyer, “The Unprecedented Surge in Fear About Climate Change” The Atlantic, January 23, 2019, https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2019/01/do-most-americans-believe-climate-change-polls-say-yes/580957/ (accessed March 13, 2019).

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] U.S. Global Change Research Program, “Fourth National Climate Assessment: Volume II: Impacts, Risks, and Adaptation in the United States,” October 2018, https://nca2018.globalchange.gov/ (accessed March 13, 2019).

[5] Lloyd Dixon, Flavia Tsang, and Gary Fitts, “The Impact Of Changing Wildfire Risk On California’s Residential Insurance Market,” California Natural Resources Agency, August 2018, http://www.climateassessment.ca.gov/techreports/docs/20180827-Forests_CCCA4-CNRA-2018-008.pdf (accessed February 11, 2019).

[6] Ibid.

[7] U.S. Global Change Research Program, “Fourth National Climate Assessment: Volume II: Impacts, Risks, and Adaptation in the United States,” October 2018, https://nca2018.globalchange.gov/ (accessed March 13, 2019).

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Estimated revenue loss based on U.S. Agriculture reports on average 2017 corn yield and market prices per bushel in 2017.

[11] Michael Page, “What the New Climate Report Says About New England,” NECN, November 24, 2018, https://www.necn.com/news/new-england/What-the-New-Climate-Report-Says-About-New-England-501175041.html  (accessed February 11, 2019).

[12] Alex Kuffner, “Impacts of climate change pronounced in Northeast,” Providence Journal, November 23, 2018.

[13] Mark Terry, “Mosquitoes Will Rule the Earth as Climate Change Expands Disease Vectors,” BioSpace, September 26, 2018, https://www.biospace.com/article/cp8r-mosquitoes-will-rule-the-earth-as-climate-change-expands-disease-vectors/ (accessed February 11, 2019).

[14] U.S. Global Change Research Program, “Fourth National Climate Assessment: Volume II: Impacts, Risks, and Adaptation in the United States,” October 2018, https://nca2018.globalchange.gov/ (accessed March 13, 2019).