Article published in the Philadelphia Business Journal on August 7, 2023. Updated 7:00 am.
Record-breaking temperatures in many parts of the U.S. and around the world are further evidence that we continue to experience climate change.
This summer, record high temperatures have occurred in many parts of the country, especially in our southern states. Record highs are also being set at night, preventing overnight cooling. In addition, records are being set for the number of consecutive daily high temperatures. July was the hottest month on record.
Phoenix, Arizona experienced 31 straight days of temperatures of 110 degrees Fahrenheit or more. Michelle Litwin, Phoenix’s heat response manager, stated, “Phoenix has always been hot, but this is something else.”
Ocean temperatures surrounding parts of Florida have exceeded 90 degrees Fahrenheit. In Manatee, Florida, the water temperature has exceeded 101 degrees. Ocean temperatures are typically in the mid-80s this time of year.
The graphic at this link shows average daily sea surface temperatures for 1981 through 2011, 2022 and outlier 2023. The temperatures for 2023 are significantly above the temperatures of the previous years.
It is widely believed by the scientific community that climate change is fueling the frequency and severity of weather events. This is impacting the property insurance market. Due to the rapid rise in insurance premiums, some insurance companies are withdrawing from the market in Florida and California, making it more difficult for homeowners and businesses to purchase property insurance.
The Insurance Information Institute reports that in Florida, for the last two years, net underwriting losses were in excess of $1 billion. Six insurance companies suffered insolvency in 2022. Many more have suspended writing policies or abandoned the state. For Florida homeowners, the cost of annual home insurance is $4,200, triple the national average. Rising sea levels are putting at risk trillions of dollars of coastal property. At some point, home insurance will be out of reach for many families as it will be for small businesses.
The cost of not addressing climate change is very significant. The World Economic Forum estimates by 2050, climate change could negatively impact global Gross Domestic Product by 18%.
In March 2018, a lawsuit for damages and the costs associated with climate change was filed by several California cities against five of the largest investor-owned oil companies, including Chevron Corporation. During the trial, the attorney representing Chevron made a stunning acknowledgment, stating, “Chevron accepts the consensus in the scientific communities on climate change. There’s no debate about climate science.”
ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips, Royal Dutch Shell and British Petroleum, the other defendants in the lawsuit, submitted briefs to the court agreeing with Chevron’s statement.
Given the petroleum industry’s acknowledgment that global warming is real and the adverse impact on the GOP’s core political issues: GDP growth and helping families, property owners and small businesses, why doesn’t the Republican Party take a proactive stance against global warming?
In a July 30 CNN article, Ella Nilsen writes that some Republicans are starting the sensitive task of acknowledging the issue of climate change. She quotes Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), who stated, “As Donald Trump is the near presumptive nominee of our party in 2024, it’s going to be very hard for [the] party to adopt a climate-sensitive policy.” Trump has been a fierce climate denier, calling climate change a hoax. Trump’s base of supporters believe him.
In the past, the GOP has acted courageously in spite of the views of their constituency. In 1970, in a strong demonstration of bipartisan unity against fierce opposition by the petroleum industry, the Clean Air Act was passed, phasing out the use of lead in gasoline. In ensuing years, the percentage of children 1-5 years of age with elevated lead levels significantly declined. Today, the GOP wants to gut the Clean Air Act.
In 1975, a bipartisan Congress passed the Energy Policy and Conservation Act with the objective of raising the fuel efficiency of new passenger vehicles from 13.5 mpg. The auto industry fought hard against this legislation. By 2020, fuel efficiency had risen to 29.5 mpg. Our economy and energy independence would be seriously impacted today if vehicle fuel efficiency had not increased.
Will the GOP lead like they have done in the past and tackle climate change? Not doing so is disastrous for the economy and for families, property owners and small businesses—groups that the GOP claims they champion.
Stan Silverman is founder of Silverman Leadership and author of “Be Different! The Key to Business and Career Success.” He is also a speaker, advisor and widely read nationally syndicated columnist on leadership. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.