Friday, January 04, 2013

National Catastrophe Fund? ... by gimleteye

With climate change, the impacts of economic catastrophe are being re-written though the final draft is out, somewhere in the future. The Herald editorial page argues today for the establishment of a national catastrophe fund by Congress, so that disasters like Superstorm Sandy -- or supersize hurricanes in Florida -- don't leave citizens in the dark and cold.

That's fine for the time being. We should help our fellow Americans when catastrophe strikes. The problem with climate change, we have written here, is that when rising seas creep into water works that supply us drinking water and take away sewage, when high tides permanently over-run our homes and tourism based businesses on the coast; who will pay the hundreds of billions and trillions then?

That's just here, in America.

Local experts have begun to argue for a strategic plan to retreat from the coasts. That's unlikely to happen until the insurance industry stops writing policies for property. Congress should empower an orderly investigation by the nation's top venture capital entrepreneurs, energy scientists and energy economists -- leaving the nation's utilities on the sidelines, for the time being, to watch with the rest of us -- to do a real, substantive analysis of the assumed benefits of so-called renewable energy contributions to the grid and to evaluate the business models of transportation and electricity generation comprehensively.

Eventually, the demand for self-preservation will kick in; both with the Chamber of Commerce Luddites and the rest of the ante-diluvian business interests and billionaires who have obscured the costs of climate change through well-placed fog machines of doubt.

What we all need, though, is a rational analysis of priorities, costs, and strategic outcomes. Asking Americans to fund one crisis after another at the coasts, in the forests or the tornado belt will run its course, just like the insurance industry will lose interest in funding cost recoveries as the seas rise.

We can anticipate this today, by putting the best and brightest minds to work on our nation's energy policy; from the venture capital industry and not from the business interests who mightily profit from failed growth models, time and time again. We can do this. Why? There's no cost convening a blue ribbon panel whose recommendations, to be sure, may sit on a shelf. It's happened countless times.

So let the true reckoning go forward on a national energy policy. Congress, fund disaster relief now, but also put the best and the brightest to work so the American public can at least see there is a strategic way forward rather than bouncing from one climate catastrophe to the next.

1 comment:

Mayor Philip Stoddard said...

Send this as an op-ed to the Post and Times.