|On the eve of the US elections, Hurricane Sandy rudely popped the bubble of global warming denial that has enveloped the US political system. But we can't say we weren't warned. Indeed, less than a week before Sandy first started forming as a tropical storm, global reinsurance giant Munich Re issued a report about the long-term trend of increasing extreme events, and the threats to life and property that they pose. Severe Weather in North America: Perils, Risks, Insurance runs 277 pages, focusing on the period 1980-2011—during which losses totalled just over $1 trillion—and notes:
"The number of natural catastrophes per year has been rising dramatically on all continents since 1980, but the trend is steepest for North America," adding, "This increase is entirely attributable to weather events, as there has been a negative trend for geophysical events."
According to the press release, "The insured losses amounted to US $510bn, and some 30,000 people lost their lives due to weather catastrophes in North America during this time frame. With US $62.2bn insured losses and overall losses of US $125bn (in original values) Hurricane Katrina in 2005 was the costliest event ever recorded in the U.S. Katrina was also the deadliest single storm event, claiming 1,322 lives."
After Katrina, seven years ago, I interviewed a climate scientist working for another major reinsurance company, so this report immediately caught my attention. As a reality-based business that has to pay a good chunk of the costs of climate change, I knew their perspective spoke for many others as well who were not being heard from.
Then another global warming report came out from the World Bank, which only threw Munich Re's report into sharper focus. Turn Down The Heat: Why a 4°C Warmer World Must be Avoided warns that the world is headed toward a rise of 4°C (7.2°F) by the end of the century, and that current pledges to reduce emissions will only marginally reduce that figure. "All regions of the world would suffer - some more than others," the report's press release warns, "but the report finds that the poor will suffer the most." It also finds that, "the most vulnerable regions are in the tropics, sub-tropics and towards the poles, where multiple impacts are likely to come together."
Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2011—CEO likens union contract to cancer in American Crystal Sugar lockout:
|Workers at American Crystal Sugar remainlocked out after four months—and a recording of company CEO Dave Berg speaking to shareholders on Nov. 7 demonstrates very clearly what the workers are up against.
Berg describes a friend who was feeling unwell and, after going to the doctor, had a 21-pound tumor removed. He continues:
I’m not saying a labor contract is cancer, but it affects you, it will drag you backward, you can’t do what you need to do. And I’m not saying we’re trying to get rid of the labor contract, we are not about union-busting. Take that one home with you, we are not about union-busting, but we can’t let the labor contract make us sick for ever and ever and ever. We have to treat the disease and that’s what we’re doing here.(The recording was made available by the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers union.)
I don't know about you, but speaking for me, when the CEO of a company that has locked out its workers and hired replacement workers despite safety problems starts off with "I'm not saying a labor contract is cancer" in the midst of comparing his company's labor contract to cancer, his subsequent claim that "we are not about union-busting" starts to feel a little disingenuous.
On today's Kagro in the Morning show, Joan McCarter and Greg Dworkin talk "fiscal cliff," the future of Medicare, and reveal the Simpson-Bowles non-report's endorsement of single payer. Also, why do the CEOs behind "Fix the Debt," ordinarily busy raiding their companies' pension funds for bonuses, now want to undermine the one pension fund they currently can't touch? Hmm... gee! On filibuster reform: which Senators are still holdouts, and just where did this reform coalition come from, anyway? The answer just might put a little spring in your step today.