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Climate Change from a small business perspective

By Dan Pool, Editor

            As editor/publisher of this newspaper and as a homeowner and someone who owns a rental property, I can tell you I don’t like bad weather. As a reporter, I have taken plenty of pictures of homes with blown off roofs. And even in relatively smaller storms, we have pictures of guys with chainsaws cutting trees off power lines.

            Like every business now, this newspaper doesn’t operate without electricity. No power, we’d just as well close. Our roof has blown off the Main Street building we occupy once, well before anyone was discussing climate change, and it left a mess. We got the paper out but it was a challenge with rainwater running through the offices. I don’t want that to happen again.

            I don’t want the roof of my house blown off; and I don’t want trees blocking the drive to our rental property.

            To be clear I do not believe climate change is responsible for every thunderstorm or odd weather occurrence. I do believe, as the general consensus of climate researchers and scientists believe,  climate change increases the likelihood and severity of storms.

            I don’t want more and worse storms and I don’t want hotter summers – not at all. Status quo suits me fine. No reason to improve the weather but let’s not make it worse.

             Bad weather, droughts, hot spells, unusual periods of cooler weather or rain have happened since the earth was created. No argument there.

            Where I think small business owners need to pay attention is the possibility of making weather events occur more often comes with a very real cost.

            We had a minor weather event in July (heavy winds, limited tornado) and it produced $11 million in damage county wide. It didn’t qualify as a genuine weather disaster, yet it was expensive for some and a serious inconvenience for many. Whole-house generators are quickly becoming a necessity.

            Anything that is detrimental or poses further threat to the functioning of roofs and power grids must be taken seriously.         No one likes going four days without power in July and still seeing trees down on roadsides a month later despite long hours of work by county crews.

            Even people not fully on board with climate science or politics need to consider the absolute disruption wild weather creates. Lowering any risk is a sound policy. Even if you are skeptical on the ties, the potential consequences are of a magnitude we shouldn’t ignore.

            There is one reader who has referred to me as “Chicken Little” when I last expressed concerns over climate change. But it’s not accurate. Chicken Little instantly panicked as he thought the sky was falling. This isn’t panic, it’s researched precaution.

            If we can take some actions, nothing drastic, put more emphasis on reducing carbon now to lower the risk of increased chances of catastrophic weather in the future, it’s prudent, not panicky.

            Much like someone being told they have high blood pressure making changes in diet and exercise, we need to make changes in how we power our planet. Eating more salad may not prevent a heart attack down the road, but most agree it’s worthwhile to try.

            This is not a call for shutting anything down or making everyone walk or any wild steps climate change opponents will claim are required. It’s about looking for transitions that are tolerable.

            Another common rebuttal is “we” can’t afford to make any changes. I would question who is “we” referring to? The large corporation where change might hurt their profits perhaps? American industry as a whole is routinely churning out record profits; during COVID they claimed hardships but Wall Street posted robust gains.

            Compare any threatened costs against the bills for storm cleanup and productivity missed with power outages, not to mention the staggering loss due to wildfires tied to drier conditions in the west, and ask how can we afford not to support efforts to make changes.

            An ounce of precaution is worth a pound of cure, as the old saying goes.

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