South Carolina Flooding Is The Scary New Reality For Businesses

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By Alexander C. Kaufman, Business Editor, The Huffington Post

“Businesses confront a lot of challenges and have a wide range of risks, but this is large and it is growing. It’s just one you can’t ignore.”

In South Carolina, where heavy weekend rainfall caused the worst flooding in a millennium, the local economy has ground to halt. Rescue workers are evacuating those trapped in flooded neighborhoods of the counties surrounding Columbia, the state’s capital. Officials have also warned other residents to stay home during the cleanup. In many parts of the state, customers can’t shop and employees can’t work.

The floods resulted from Hurricane Joaquin, which never made landfall over South Carolina but combined with other weather systems, soaking the region on Sunday. Nine people have died. It’s unclear how costly the damage will be.

Such extreme events are expected to become more common in the coming years, as the already-irreversible effects of climate change take hold. And bad weather is not good for business.

“It’s a reality of doing business, it’s a reality of life for all of us,” Cynthia McHale, the director of insurance at the sustainability nonprofit Ceres, told The Huffington Post on Monday. “We’re in for a lot of rough weather, among other things.”

Wildfires that destroy property and uproot residents. Heat waves that, as refrigerators and air conditioners roar, cause outages on power grids. Droughts that make water for agriculture and manufacturing even more scarce.

“You need to know the climate change risks to you and your business and, in the case of floods, have an emergency plan for the evacuation of employees,” McHale said. “At some point, you may decide you can’t continue to operate your business where you have been.”

Businesses can even feel ripple effects from storms and floods halfway around the world.

In 2011, deadly deluges in Thailand damaged factories in Bangkok’s bustling manufacturing sector, disrupting supply chains for multinationals such as Apple, Toyota and Unilever. More than 800 people died in the floods, which caused nearly $46 billion in property damages, according to the World Bank.

To be sure, businesses around the world have awakened to the new realities of climate change and the need to mitigate its effects.

Earlier this month, during a series of announcements in New York for Climate Week, business leaders put pressure on political officials to curb carbon emissions.

An unlikely coalition of big corporations — including Goldman Sachs, Johnson & Johnson and Walmart — formed to set dates by which they would completely convert to using renewable energy. Since last year, the number of companies vowing to wean off fossil fuels by setting internal carbon pricing has tripled.

Even bankers are waking up to the need for radical change. In a joint statement released last week, a group of six colossal U.S. banks called for a “strong global climate agreement” during the United Nations’ conference in Paris in December.

“It’s really gargantuan, it really is,” McHale said of climate risks. “I understand that businesses confront a lot of challenges and have a wide range of risks, but this is large and it is growing. It’s just one you can’t ignore.”

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About Mike Neuman

TwEnvironmentalist; Father; Senior Citizen; Husband, Former School Crossing Guard for City of Madison; Bike to Work Advocate; Animal/Children/People Lover (in general); Volunteer for Habitat for Humanity, Madison, Wisconsin, Anti-long distance travel (via fossil fuel burning); Against militarism in any form; Strong believer in people everywhere having the right to speak their minds openly, without any fear of reprisal, regarding any concerns; for those in authority to listen attentively AND, as warranted, ACT AS NECESSARY AND IN A TIMELY MANNER TO REDUCE OR ELIMINATE those concerns. For 59 years of my and my identical twin broth. er, Pat (from March 16,1950 until my brother, Pat, took his own life in June 2009 after his being fired from his NWS job and was then “allowed” to retire early from the federal government. He was fired despite having a long time and successful career as a flood forecaster with the Kansas City National Weather Service. Pat took a new position in the Midwest Regional Office in Minneapolis and the office he worked at moved to a new location outside the central city where there was less highway traffic to contend fowith a few years afterwards. Unfortunately, Pat’s work for the NWS went sour after he began to see the evidence for concern about rising global temperatures shortly after relocating to Minneapolis, and how they appeared to effect of flooding on the Red River that flows out of Canada before entering the U.S. in North Dakota. Pat and I conversed on a regular basis with other scientists on the Yahoo Group named “Climate Concern “ and by personal email. The NWS denied his recommendation to give his public presentation o n his research at the “Minneapolis Mall of America” in February 2000, which deeply affected h,im. He strongly believed the information ought be shared with the public to which I concurred. That was the beginning of the vendetta against my brother, Patrick J. Neuman, for speaking strongly of the obligations the federal government was responsible for accurately informing the citizenry. A similar response to my raising the issue of too many greenhouse gases being emitted by drivers of vehicles on Wisconsin highway system, my immediate supervisors directed: “that neither global warming, climate change nor the long term impacts upon the natural resources of Wisconsin from expansion of the state highway system were to be any part of my job requirements, and that I must not communicate, nor in a memorandum to all the bureau, shall any person who works in the same bureau I do communicate with me, neither verbally on the phone, by email

One response to “South Carolina Flooding Is The Scary New Reality For Businesses”

  1. La Mer says :

    Soon enough a decade will have elapsed since the Nobel prize was shared by co-recipients Al Gore and IPCC lead researchers, one of whom, Dr. Jonathan Patz in Wisconsin, will be speaking in Minocqua Wednesday, 10/7 at 6:30 p.m….and it will be live streamed.

    Info: http://www.ghi.wisc.edu/event/science-on-tap-jonathan-patz-to-discuss-climate-change-and-global-health/

    http://www.nelson.wisc.edu/sage/people/profile.php?p=1522

    http://nelson.wisc.edu/sage/docs/publications/PatzetalAGH2014.pdf

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