31 May 2006

Climate Change: US News & World Report Asks "Can We Live With It?"

In another example that Global Warming is making the grade, this week's mainstream news weekly, US News & World Report features a cover story asking the question: "Global Warming: Can We Live With It?" The lead article, by correspondent Bret Schulte, whose interview with Al Gore also appears in this issue, suggests we may not have a choice. "Adapting to climate change is not only necessary, experts say; it's unavoidable," writes Schulte. "But our existing survival techniques will face a host of costly new stressors. Flash floods will require better drainage in cities. On the coasts, artificial wetlands and sea walls may become more common, and development could be restricted or require tougher building codes, with higher elevations."

Schulte profiles King County Executive Ron Sims, who has made fighting the effects of climate change a central theme for much of his 10-year tenure as county executive, according to the article. "Elsewhere," writes Schulte, "preparation for global warming has taken lots of different shapes. The fact that many families have chosen not to return to New Orleans, whether it's because of higher insurance rates or fear of a Katrina repeat, is a form of adaptation." He also cites New York City's Staten Island "Bluebelt," a buffer made of existing and artificial wetlands, and London's efforts to prepare "for more heat waves like the one that killed 35,000 Europeans in 2003, as well as summer droughts and winter floods."

Schulte concludes that for many, "the next debate in the climate-change debate is not why the planet is warming, or if we can stop it. It is this: How do we live with it?"

In a related article in the same issue, Marianne Lavelle writes about the business opportunities presented by climate change, focusing on the insurance industry's efforts to grapple with global warming. Two weeks ago, American International Group (AIG) followed others such as SwissRe, in adjusting for climate change risks, announcing that is "actively seeking to incorporate environmental and climate change considerations across its businesses."

AIG vice president Chris Winans told US News & World Report, "We don't make the leap where we are saying that we endorse the idea that hurricanes are a direct result of global warming or that global warming is a direct result of human activities, but we take the possibility seriously."

Pick it up at your newsstand or read it here: US News & World Report

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