AC Alert for May 29, 2012 Killer Heat on the Shores of Lake Erie?

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Wednesday, May 30, 2012 - 3:00pm

CONTENT: Newsletter

Mention the city of Cleveland Ohio, and some people may think about the nifty new baseball park or the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame or the reinvigorated city economy and municipal beautification efforts.  And others of us may think about brutal snow squalls and gale force winds blowing off the shores of Lake Erie during one of those classic Cleveland Browns professional football games. Brrrr!

And perhaps for winter sports fans Cleveland is about the last place in the USA where we might think residents were succumbing to the effects of dangerous heat.

Yet, if a report just released this month by the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) proves accurate, some residents of the North Coast city will indeed experience severe fluctuations in temperatures during the next century as the impact of Global Warming takes hold.

Scary stuff indeed. A new report --  Killer Summer Heat  -- by the Natural Resources Defense Council predicts Cleveland will be one of the top cities for decades to come when it comes to heat-related deaths. (Other cities are also named.) Because Cleveland sees a fluctuation in temperatures it's more difficult for people to get used to rapidly rising heat in the 90s, say the authors.

People who live in Miami, Florida evidently don't see such dramatic temperature changes and are probably more acclimated to hot weather, the report found. The report blamed the frequency of predicted heat waves combined with Cleveland's aging population to make for a dangerous -- even deadly -- combination.

NRDC  ranks Cleveland in the top three cities for heat-related deaths -- and the authors say it's only going to get worse. Larry Gray with the Cleveland Fire Department said medical calls increase with the rising temperatures and advises everyone, but especially the elderly and very young, to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.

Meanwhile, fans are a hot item at Sutton Industrial Hardware on Prospect Avenue in Cleveland where workers were also stocking shelves with cases of bottled water. Customer Allen Turner said when his workday tasks outside in the heat are done, his plan for the holiday weekend was to turn on the fan, grab some cold water, relax and try and stay cool. (Source of full report: CNBC)

The issue of global warming and climate change poses a major challenge for large public corporations and their shareowners - those institutional investors focused on potential or (known) rising risks posed by climate change to the companies they hold in their portfolios. 

“Climate change,” “global warming” and “sustainability” of the company owned, and risks posed over the long-term are now important considerations for all manner of shareholder activities and corporate responses. The argument is not always about “if” climate change is occurring or “who” or “what” is responsible: Often, the investors now ask:  What is the company doing to detect, monitor, prepare for and mitigate risk?  And detect and leverage opportunities inherent in climate change? What are the company's climate change strategies?

Investors have many questions:  Has the company charted its “carbon footprint”? What is being measured - and managed? Has management taken steps to inform shareowners of real or potential climate change risks? What are the potential costs of mitigating such risks? How does the board and management identify and monitor potential risks? And, are there opportunities identified in climate change that the company is not pursuing? What may the effects of carbon taxes be on company finances?

Looking to put muscle behind these questions, shareowners are filing numerous proxy petitions and coalitions are formed to address climate risk issues at those public companies that they invest in..

Recognizing the importance of this issue, AC editors created a special Hot Topic on the issue of Global Warming and Climate Change.  There more than 2500 articles (news, commentary, research) have been posted on this special site since its inception four years ago. Here are some of the latest:


Climate change may increase heat-related deaths by more than 5,000 in Boston, reports says
(Source:  An additional 150,000 or more Americans could die by the end of this century due to excessive heat caused by climate change, according to a report released Wednesday by the Natural Resources Defense Council. The report estimates an additional 5,715 people will die in Boston by the end of the century because of the increased heat.

Report: China’s actions are crucial on climate change
(Source: MIT News) A major report entitled "The Role of China in Mitigating Climate Change" published in the journal Energy Economics, compares the impact of a stringent emissions reduction policy with and without China's participation. It finds that China's actions are essential.

Rich-poor divide reopens at UN climate talks
(Source: AP) U.N. climate talks ran into gridlock last week as a widening rift between rich and poor countries risked undoing some advances made last year in the decades-long effort to control carbon emissions that scientists say are overheating the planet. As so often in the slow-moving negotiations, the session in Bonn bogged down with disputes over technicalities. But at the heart of the discord was the larger issue of how to divide the burden of emissions cuts between developed and developing nations.

Amid Economic Concerns, Carbon Capture Faces a Hazy Future
(Source: National Geographic) For a world dependent on fossil fuels, carbon capture and storage ("CCS") could be a key to controlling greenhouse gas emissions. But the technology meant to scrub carbon dioxide pollution from the air is experiencing stiff headwinds that have stalled many projects at the bottom line.

U.N. Readies Largest Ever 'Save The Planet' Summit
(Source: Forbes) Next month, the United Nations will hold what is expected to be the largest ever gathering of leaders to discuss sustainable development at a time when inequality is on the rise from the U.S. to China.  Around 180 world leaders are expected to meet in Rio de Janeiro to brainstorm the future of environmental policy and poverty reduction in June.

Pollution in thunderclouds increases global warming
(Source: TG Daily) Pollution is leading thunderstorm clouds to capture heat, increasing global warming in a way that climate models have failed to take into account. It strengthens them, causing their anvil-shaped tops to spread out high in the atmosphere and capture heat, especially at night, says Jiwen Fan of the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

This is just a sampling of the information in our Alert. Go here for the full text of this alert, and more information on Sustainability, and other Accountability related topics.