Goldman Sachs & Climate Change

We’re all seeing tons of dialogue and demonstrations concerning climate change. However, when a major private investment company invests in research to see how climate change will affect the future – so they can guide their investors (and themselves) – the report may have more credibility than that of politicians trying to impress us to gain our money and votes.

I’ll add comments afterwards about positive things we can and need to do.

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Goldman Sachs released a 34-page analysis of the impact of climate change. And the results are terrifying.

 

Yusuf Khan

Reuters

Sep. 25, 2019

 

  • A Goldman Sachs report on the impact of climate change on cities across the world makes for grim reading.

 

  • Rising temperatures would lead to changing disease patterns, more intense and longer-lasting heatwaves, more destructive weather events, and pressure on the availability and quality of water for drinking and agriculture.

 

  • Major cities were also highlighted at risk of flooding with parts of New York, Tokyo, and Lagos all at risk of being partially submerged. 

 

Goldman Sachs released a report on the effect of climate change on cities around the world and the results made for grim reading.

The bank’s Global Markets Institute, led by Amanda Hindlian, warned of “significant” potential risks to the world’s largest cities, which are especially vulnerable to more frequent storms, higher temperatures, rising sea levels, and storm surges.

Cities generate about 80% of global GDP and are home to more than half of the world’s population, a share that Goldman says, citing the United Nations, is projected to reach two-thirds by 2050. About 40% of the global population lives within 100 kilometers of a coast, it says, and 1 in 10 live in areas less than 10 meters above sea level.

Goldman highlighted three cities which would be subject to those storm surges and in the future could face harmful flooding — New York, Tokyo, and Lagos. Miami, Alexandria, Dhaka, and Shanghai face major flood risks due to being less than 11 meters above sea level.

Goldman’s researchers said that when starting the study they took a broad consensus that human activity, namely emission of greenhouse gasses “is causing the earth to warm in ways that are affecting the climate.”

Natural ecosystems would be damaged, and risks to human health would rise, as well as pressures on food and drinking water.

Agriculture would also be massively affected: “Warmer temperatures and shifting precipitation patterns could reduce yields and nutritional quality as well change growing seasons and agricultural zones around the world.”

 

Goldman gave some fairly stark warnings about potential outcomes:

 

  • More frequent, more intense, and longer-lasting heat waves.  The consequences will affect human health, productivity, economic activity, and agriculture. “Higher surface temperatures could exacerbate the warming process by causing permafrost to melt, releasing further methane and CO2 into the atmosphere.”

 

  • Destructive weather events, including storms, winds, flooding and fires. I t’s not just New York, Tokyo and Lagos. “Other major low-lying coastal or already flood-prone cities include Shanghai, Dhaka, Mumbai and Karachi – each of which has a population of 15 million people or more.”

 

 

  • Changing disease patterns. “Warmer temperatures could cause disease vectors to migrate from the tropics to regions where people have less immunity; this is true not only for viruses like malaria and dengue fever but also for water-borne and food-borne diseases.”

 

  • Shifting agricultural patterns and food shortages.  “Livestock could be affected by higher temperatures and reduced water supplies. Ocean acidification is likely to put stress on aquatic populations and affect current fishing patterns. Some of these changes are already underway. Some climate scientists, for example, estimate that coral reefs will be all but extinct over the course of the century due to ocean acidification.”

 

  • Water.  “Half of the world’s population will live in water-stressed areas as soon as 2025,” Goldman notes, citing the World Health Orgnization. “Even in non-stressed areas, the quality of surface water could deteriorate as more rain and storms drive erosion and the release of toxins. These dynamics could affect everything from the availability of drinking water for people to a shortage of water for livestock and crops (with negative effects for the food supply) to decreases in hydroelectric power generation.”

 

The bank said that all those factors would “affect economic activity, damage infrastructure – from buildings to transportation to water and waste-management systems – and disproportionately harm vulnerable residents.”  Goldman says:

 

“Despite the uncertainty around the timing

and scale of the impact, it may be prudent

for some cities to start investing in adapt-

ation now. Urban adaptation could drive

one of the largest infrastructure build-

-outs in history. Given the scale of the

task, urban adaptation will likely need to

draw on innovative sources of financing.”

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I’m not a fan of “scare reporting.” But when a private banking and investment company pays for this kind of research – and when the report jibes with everything else I’ve been reading about in recent years, from multiple independent sources – and am now experiencing  – the forecast seems reliable.

The question then, is “What are you and I going to do about it?”

There’s an old story about frogs:  If you put a frog into a bowl of hot water, it will naturally jump out of the bowl, instantly.  But … if you put a frog in a bowl of tepid, room-temperature water, and heat the water very slowly, it will remain there and you can boil the frog to death.

For many decades, we’ve had warnings regarding the impact of how we’re living, especially that the burning of fossil fuels, will lead to the climate change we’re now experiencing. It’s no longer a forecast or warning about “some condition in the future.”

It’s here, now.

And it’s increasing.

So we’re back to the question:  What can you do about it?

 

  • Move to a safer place if you’re near tidal water or other areas that flood.
  • If you’re in an area that’s water deprived, move to an area that has more water abundance.
  • Plant trees. We cannot emphasize any more strongly the positive aspects of planting trees. They soak up carbon dioxide,  stabilize the ground, soak up excess water, and hold water longer (for agriculture.)
  • Check your fossil fuel use. Drive an electric car, and buy locally-grown food.  (Even at the store, food packages now say where the food was grown.)  And don’t waste food; if we buy more than we need, and some of it is unused and goes bad, we throw it away … wasting a lot of energy.
  • Bother your electric company. Call or write to them, repeatedly. Let them know you don’t want coal-fired power plants, and you do want electric car re-charge stations all over your region.
  • Bother your state and federal elected officials. When you call them and write them, repeatedly, they begin to feel the pressure. Let them know that you know that climate change is real, and ask how they are voting.  “A squeaky wheel gets the oil.”
  • Eat more fish that are sustainably harvested. Go to the Monterey web site, www.montereybayaquarium.org. It lists all the sustainably harvested fish.  East less beef, pork and fowl; they use much more energy to produce the food we need.

 

The climate change “water” is already getting hot … close to boiling.

I’d like to think we humans are smarter than frogs.

But the jury is still out.

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