The Norman Transcript

October 27, 2013

We’re paying to make climate change worse


The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Editor, The Transcript:

Friday’s editorial, “Assessing risks,” mentioned the costs of relief for natural disasters and also the costs of mitigation of future disasters. These are just two of the three categories of such costs, and they are increasing rapidly.

Federal relief costs are the most readily accessible and as the graph in a recent study (nonprofitquarterly.org/policysocial-context/22344-study-reveals-shocking-rise-in-federal-disaster-relief-costs.html) shows, increased rapidly from 2000 to 2009, and even more in this decade’s first four years, to “at least $136 billion”.

The second category of costs, for mitigation, are at present very difficult to compute because most action is still in the planning stage. This site maps out which states are in planning mode and intend to take action in the future. These would be things like building levees and sea walls, cutting brush and fire lanes in the forests, installing storm shelters in buildings (c2es.org/us-states-regions/policy-maps/adaptation).

There is a third category of costs, seldom mentioned, but perhaps even more important than the first two, which address the symptoms of climate change.

This third category then describes what we are doing to reduce the problem itself. And in the absence of state and national policies to address this, the computation is simple. The “cost” is the difference in subsidies going to fossil fuels, and those going to renewable energy sources. And that difference is negative! That is, we are paying to make the problem worse, not to solve it.

JOEL OLSON

Meteorologist,

NOAA, retired

Red Earth Group,

Sierra Club

Moore