Saturday, September 20, 2014


Shaun Donovan is the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, without whose approval not a dime gets spent by Washington.  Today he gave a speech at the Center for American Progress.  It was. . .interesting and not aimed to please the Inhofes, Lonborgs, and Currys of the world but the actions not being taken suit them perfectly.  Speech took about 20 minutes, followed by an interview by former Senator Ted Strickland.

Climate action is tremendously important to me. As OMB Director, due to the wide-ranging effects that climate change is having – and will continue to have – it’s critical to our ability to operate and fund the government in a responsible manner.

From where I sit, climate action is a must do; climate inaction is a can’t do; and climate denial scores – and I don’t mean scoring points on the board. I mean that it scores in the budget – climate denial will cost us billions of dollars. The failure to invest in climate solutions and climate preparedness doesn’t get you membership in a Fiscal Conservatives’ Caucus – it makes you a member of the Flat Earth Society. Climate denial doesn’t just fly in the face of the overwhelming judgment of science – it is fiscally foolish. And while we cannot say with certainty that any individual event is caused by climate change, it is clearly increasing the frequency and intensity of several kinds of extreme weather events. The costs of climate change add up and ignoring the problem only makes it worse.
 and as we all know, no hurricane has hit the US in like thousands of days
But it’s also personal – as a native New Yorker, Superstorm Sandy brought home the impact of extreme weather. New York is where I grew up. It’s where I got married. And it’s where my children were born and raised for most of their lives.

But after Superstorm Sandy, it was where hundreds of homes were turned into piles of debris; mom and pop businesses were left submerged in water; and roads – including the one I had taken my driving test on – were wiped out. One hundred sixty people lost their lives. One of them was a daughter of a family friend. She was just 24 years old.<

As we all know, the storm also carried a hefty price tag: it caused $65 billion in damages and economic losses. Nine million homes and businesses lost power. Over 650,000 homes were damaged or completely destroyed. To help recover and rebuild, the Federal Government provided over $60 billion in much needed relief funding to affected areas.
and Aunt Judy tells us that the pause is in the stadium wave pudding
But, let’s get some facts straight about the continued costs if we don’t act.

Thirteen of the 14 warmest years since good records became available in the late 19th century have occurred since 2000.
Still, the future is bright
Looking ahead, leading estimates suggest that if we see warming of 3° Celsius above preindustrial levels, instead of 2°, we could see additional economic damages of approximately 0.9 percent of global output per. Our Council of Economic Advisers puts this figure into perspective – 0.9 percent of estimated 2014 U.S. GDP is approximately $150 billion.

Within the next 15 years, higher sea levels combined with storm surge and potential changes in hurricane activity are projected to increase the average annual cost of coastal storms along the Eastern Seaboard and the Gulf of Mexico by $7 billion, bringing the total price tag for coastal storms to $35 billion each year.

According to the National Climate Assessment, climate change has made the fire season in the United States longer, and on average, more intense. Funding needed for federal wildland fire management has tripled since 1999—averaging over $3 billion annually. In a world of finite budgets, greater fire suppression costs have left less money available for forest management and fire preparedness. So we spend what we have to in order to put out the fires, and underinvest in the tools that can help mitigate them – only leading to higher costs in the future.

And then there’s the devastating impact of drought in recent years. In 2012, we experienced what NOAA has called the country’s most extensive drought in more than 50 years, racking up $30 billion in damages. This year, California has been facing its third worst drought in recorded history, with a projected cost to the State’s economy of $2.2 billion and more than 17,000 jobs.

The bill to all of us, as taxpayers, is going up too: For example, in January, when the 2014 Farm Bill passed, CBO estimated that agricultural disaster assistance payments would total just under $900 million this year. But due to the severity of the drought, USDA has already spent $2.6 billion this year—three times what the CBO estimated would occur in a more typical year. And crop insurance payouts in the aftermath of the 2012 drought totaled more than $17 billion.

Now, when you consider the impact of climate change on the Federal Budget, it’s bad news for everyone. Even a small reduction in real GDP growth can dramatically reduce Federal revenue, drive up our deficits, and impact the government’s ability to serve the public.

Now, I’ve painted a pretty grim picture. But we are not powerless.
Well, Shaun, you could cut the pipeline off at the knees.  


William Connolley said...


Anonymous said...

Pretty good rundown of the irrational conjurings of the hysteric crowd.