Will enlightened corporate self-interest be enough incentive for protecting the climate?

A couple of months ago, Ruth Anthony-Gardner posted about research that "People don't put a high value on climate protection" -- immediate rewards trump future quality of life in people's minds, or, as Ruth put it, "So our justification for destroying the liveability of Earth for 100,000 years is 'Nobody is paying me to stop it'?"

Related to that, in today's New York Times:

Industry Awakens to Threat of Climate Change

By CORAL DAVENPORT       JAN. 23, 2014

Coca-Cola has always been more focused on its economic bottom line than on global warming, but when the company lost a lucrative operating license in India because of a serious water shortage there in 2004, things began to change.

Today, after a decade of increasing damage to Coke’s balance sheet as global droughts dried up the water needed to produce its soda, the company has embraced the idea of climate change as an economically disruptive force.

Increased droughts, more unpredictable variability, 100-year floods every two years,” said Jeffrey Seabright, Coke’s vice president for environment and water resources, listing the problems that he said were also disrupting the company’s supply of sugar cane and sugar beets, as well as citrus for its fruit juices. “When we look at our most essential ingredients, we see those events as threats.”

Coke reflects a growing view among American business leaders and mainstream economists who see global warming as a force that contributes to lower gross domestic products, higher food and commodity costs, broken supply chains and increased financial risk. Their position is at striking odds with the longstanding argument, advanced by the coal industry and others, that policies to curb carbon emissions are more economically harmful than the impact of climate change. [...]

(Emphases added. Read the entire article.)

(Image source: Andrew Link/Winona Daily News)

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Replies to This Discussion

... said Roger Bezdek, an economist who produced a report for the coal lobby that was released this week. “Even the most conservative estimates peg the social benefit of carbon-based fuels as 50 times greater than its supposed social cost.”

This ludicrous position of fossil fuel economists depends upon the fact that traditional economics fails to value things like species extinction, major changes to the jet stream, or creating acidic anoxic oceans. Any destruction that a company avoids paying for in dollars during the given quarter doesn't count, it doesn't exist in their minds. Economics only counts the flow of capital through company hands and into executive and shareholder pockets.




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