Written by: Lukas Lehmann & Ariana Cepulis
As the temperatures continued to rise this past Thursday afternoon, Members of Congress and business leaders gathered at the Rayburn House Office Building to discuss the economic ramifications of climate change. Just as the House was adjourning for an August recess, the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis began its hearing.
The panel providing testimony represented a variety of actors involved in mitigating the risk of climate change related disasters. Among them: Paula DiPerna – Special Advisor to the “CDP”, Francis Bouchard – Head of Sustainability at the Zurich Insurance Group; Garvin Jabusch – Chief Investment Officer at Green Alpha Advisors; and Jay Walker – Executive VP of Commercial Landing at South Louisiana Bank and President of the Morganza Action Coalition.
The hearing kicked off with an impassioned call-to-action from Chairwoman Kathy Castor (D-FL) in which she warned of the $1 trillion in climate-related risks that our country faces and declared that building a clean energy economy “must be the future.”
Castor’s opening remarks set a tone of urgency for the remainder of the hearing. One concern about the securities market in particular came from Jabusch of Green Alpha Advisors, who noted that many of the companies listed in the S&P 500 and other indices are either contributing to and/or not mitigating the effects that climate change will have on future business operations. He suggested that since so many people have bought into indices without considering this risk, the economy was essentially running on “auto-pilot.”
Francis Bouchard from the Zurich Insurance Group also raised alarm about the future of the insurance industry. According to his data, 2017 and 2018 were the costliest years to insure property due to the natural disasters that occurred during that time. He went on to say that current rates of insurance do not adequately reflect what will follow in the coming years. As the risk of disaster rises, so will rates, said Bouchard.
While much of the testimony brought to light the cost of the damages our country has already fronted ($312 billion in extreme weather costs in the US last year alone, according to Bouchard), there was also a feeling of optimism as business leaders shared the solutions that were working for them and the opportunities for growth looking into the future. Jay Walker of Morganza Action Coalition discussed the success of levee construction in Louisiana that has helped to prevent flooding in coastal communities. Meanwhile, Zurich Insurance Group’s Bouchard supported Walker’s advocacy for resiliency funding with a claim that for every dollar invested in natural disaster mitigation, five dollars are saved.
By the end of the hearing, an almost unanimous consensus seemed to be reached after Ranking Member Rep. Garrett Graves (R-LA) posed the following question: “Do you believe the federal government is doing a good job with regards to resiliency and adaptation?” Their answers:
Although policy suggestions differed among the members of Congress and business leaders, there was unilateral agreement that climate change is leading to increased environmental catastrophes and that the potential economic consequences are enormous. Something needs to be done.
The participants all were echoing a similar call — It’s time for the federal government to do more to protect people from climate change.
Vacation season is here, and with it comes all of the joys of visiting new, exciting places or perhaps even your old favorite places – time alone or with friends and family, shopping, new food, and simple relaxation.
As you plan your trips, we want to highlight some great products for your packing list that will make your vacation a little more sustainable. Each tip is easy to implement, reduces your carbon footprint, and saves you money along the way!
Reusable Water Bottle – For any trip you may take, consider bringing a reusable water bottle. All those plastic bottles add up, and it is unnecessary pollution when you can just bring your own bottle and refill as needed. If you have ever flown on an airplane or visited a museum, you know that liquids are not always allowed through security. Rather than just throw your water bottle away and buy a new one on the other side, simply take a reusable water bottle. This way, you can empty it before a security checkpoint and refill it after. That’s one less plastic water bottle in use, and one less drink you have to buy.
Solar Chargers – Whether your vacation will include camping, long car rides, or days at the beach, a solar charger is must-have. With a solar charger, there is no need to worry about saving your phone battery or finding a connection to electricity – all you need is the sun! How many times have you wandered around an airport or bus terminal looking for a wall outlet to charge your device? With a solar charger, all you have to do place the charger in the sunlight, plug your device in, and go! It’s perfect for vacations with prolonged hours outdoors and ensures that your devices are fully charged for whenever you may need them. The best part is there are no operating costs- no need for maintenance, batteries, or electricity.
Compostable Products – For those who are camping or are planning to take a longer vacation, we understand the desire to want to cook for yourself rather than go out. But before your reach for those paper plates, consider buying products that are more eco-friendly, such as compostable plates or utensils. Unlike plastic products, compostable materials are able to completely break down in the environment. It’s a simple switch that helps the environment and involves no real price difference from buying the plastic alternative.
Shopping Tote – If you are planning to do a little shopping on your next vacation, a reusable tote bag is a necessity. Rather than amass a collection of single-use plastic bags from every store you visit, just bring your own bag! With a reusable tote bag, you can feel good about your purchases with the peace of mind that you are cutting down on your use of plastics. This is especially helpful for areas with a bag tax as it can save you a little money with every purchase you make!
With these products, you can give yourself the peace of mind that your travel is making a difference, both for the planet and for your wallet! Safe travels!
Why Solar is a Must-Have for Camping
Summer is upon us, which means everyone will be gearing up for one favorite summer activity: the family camping trip! What better way to enjoy the warm weather than to get outside, connect with nature, and spend time swatting flies with friends and family?
As you begin to pack up the sleeping bags and stock up on trail-mix, consider bringing along some solar-powered products to make your camping trip easier, cheaper, and better for the earth! And who knows, it may spark a heated conversation or two with your MAGA-hat-wearing brother-in-law as well. Here are some of our favorite solar-powered products that you can take with you on your next outdoor adventure:
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