Drought and increased water demand spurred by explosive population growth in the Southwest has caused the water level at Lake Mead, which supplies water to Las Vegas, Arizona and Southern California, to drop. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Ethan Miller/Getty ImagesDrought and increased water demand spurred by explosive population growth in the Southwest has caused the water level at Lake Mead, which supplies water to Las Vegas, Arizona and Southern California, to drop.
Terrible droughts. Vast wildfires. Superstorm Sandy. Extreme weather is one of the most obvious negative results of climate change, and when it reaches "natural disaster" proportions, it can affect everything from our food supply to our homes and businesses, to our overall economic well-being.

People who are concerned by climate change say all signs point to more extreme weather events like those noted above. Let's not forget that Superstorm Sandy was first dubbed "Frankenstorm" -- it shocked even weather experts with its unprecedented formation.

In fact, last year was the warmest year on record, and the second most extreme weather year in U.S. history, according to sustainability advocacy group Ceres.

After last year's frightening developments, which only foreshadow greater climate-related problems and dangers, Earth Day 2013 seems more important than ever. And lately all eyes are on big business and how companies can do more to stop harming Mother Earth.

Scary Math

This Earth Day, a documentary called "Do the Math" made its debut on a tour across the country. The man behind the documentary is Bill McKibben of the 350.org group, who in a recent interview with the Portland Tribune described the fossil fuel business as "a rogue industry," releasing five times more carbon than even conservative estimates consider safe.
McKibben has launched a fossil fuels divestment campaign urging companies to reduce the amount of CO2 released into the atmosphere. According to 350.org, scientists and climate experts say that the CO2 level needs to be reduced from 392 parts per million -- the amount that is in our atmosphere right now -- to less than 350 parts per million.

He explained the premise of the documentary to the Tribune: "'Do The Math' refers to the simple and terrifying new reality of the climate crisis: The fossil fuel industry currently has 2,795 gigatons of carbon in their reserves, five times more than the maximum 565 gigatons the world can emit and keep warming below 2 degrees Celsius, a goal agreed to by nearly every nation on Earth, including the United States."

Many companies are making bigger stands to acknowledge and address climate change, but there are still many more that are not yet on board.



Companies Slow to Warm Up to Climate Change

When it comes to climate-related catastrophes, few industries have as much at stake as those involved in insurance.
According to a recent report from Ceres, only 23 insurers out of 184 examined have formed any comprehensive strategies to cope with climate change.

And while insurers will share the experience of being among the first to feel the pain, those responses they have made to global warming have been anything but uniform. For example, ACE (ACE) and Swiss Re are both putting money into climate change research, while Allstate (ALL) and Travelers (TRV) express "ambivalence" about the science involved, according to Ceres, and most companies are primarily relying on their Enterprise Risk Management strategies to build in any risk to the model.

There are, however, many other large companies stepping up to the plate in aggressive ways.

Thirty-three companies, including Starbucks (SBUX), eBay (EBAY), Ikea, Seventh Generation, Patagonia, and Annie's (BNNY), have all joined forces with Ceres' advocacy coalition, Business for Innovative Climate & Energy Policy. The coalition is pushing policymakers to pass energy and climate legislation.

The companies that have joined have signed a Climate Declaration, which asks the U.S. government to implement a national policy to combat climate change. Both corporations and individuals can sign the declaration.

The organization claims: "Tackling climate change is one of America's greatest economic opportunities of the 21st century (and it's simply the right thing to do)."

Changing for Good and Profit

It's not only the right thing to do, but also the financially smart thing to do. Plenty of companies are coming to the realization that working to save the planet can also save them money -- and even make them profits.

Consumer giants like Procter & Gamble (PG) acknowledge that changing business practices with an eye on sound environmental policies lowers costs and waste. They've also been reporting on their progress at cutting greenhouse gas emissions and water waste, using renewable energy and recycled materials, and letting no consumer or manufacturing waste end up in landfills.

Some smaller companies are trying to move us into the future with greener alternatives. Take biofuels company Solazyme (SZYM), which uses plant-based sugars and microalgae to make alternative fuels, or SolarCity (SCTY), a solar company that's been making major headway into business and consumer markets.

And consider Tesla (TSLA), whose founder, Elon Musk, has made pointed statements about reducing America's oil addiction. Tesla's gorgeous electric cars are aimed to help consumers do just that. Talk about good for Mother Earth, the wallet, and Tesla's bottom line.

Climate change's ill effects have made themselves known, but the beginnings of progress can be seen on the horizon.

Fortunately, corporate America, investors, and regular people all seem to be coming around to the idea that we can work on greening up the planet -- and maybe even saving the world.

Motley Fool analyst Alyce Lomax owns shares of Starbucks and Solazyme. The Motley Fool recommends eBay, Procter & Gamble, Starbucks, and Tesla Motors. The Motley Fool owns shares of eBay, Solazyme, Starbucks, and Tesla Motors.


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Babu G. Ranganathan

GLOBAL WARMING MAY NOT BE MAN MADE

Dr. Larry Vardiman (scientist and physicist) of the Institue for Creation Research says:

"One possible scenario may be found in a recent series of articles by Henrik Svensmark and Nigel Marsh, cosmic ray specialists from Denmark, who have shown an indirect connection between galactic cosmic ray (GCR) intensity and global temperature.7,8,9 They are studying the influence of the Sun on the flow of GCR to Earth. The Sun's changing sunspot activity influences the magnetosphere surrounding the Earth permitting more GCR to strike the Earth during high periods of activity.

When the Sun is active, the intensity of GCR striking the Earth is increased, causing more ionization in the atmosphere, creating more carbon-14, and possibly creating more cloud condensation nuclei (CCN). This increase in CCN, in turn, appears to create more low-level clouds which cool the Earth. When the Sun is quiet the GCR intensity striking the Earth is reduced, allowing the Earth to warm. Svensmark and Marsh have shown a striking statistical correlation between sunspot activity and global cooling and warming over the past 1000 years.

The recent rise in global temperature may partially be due to current low solar activity supplemented by a recent increase in carbon dioxide concentration measured at Mauna Loa. The connection which still needs further study is the production of CCN and clouds by GCR."

There is a good deal of science showing that global warming is not mad made. Yes, we still should have pollution controls, as we already do, but not to the extreme because it will unnecessarily hurt business.

Visit my newest Internet site: THE SCIENCE SUPPORTING CREATION

Babu G. Ranganathan
B.A. Bible/Biology

Author of popular Internet article, TRADITIONAL DOCTRINE OF HELL EVOLVED FROM GREEK ROOTS

April 29 2013 at 12:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
moishgil

Republicans: We'll Insist the World Is Flat If That Will Advance Our Political Agenda (VIDEO) http://wp.me/p1Jt6N-13h

April 25 2013 at 7:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Grant TB

For people who want to spread the word about the climate threat, here is some brief, useful additional info from The Climate Reality Project: https://realitydrop.org/#myths/72?article=61841&user=G%20TB

April 25 2013 at 2:14 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
robrtl

there sare no more dangerous weather events than ever just more development byb the oceans andinflation in costs

April 24 2013 at 10:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
scotthteck

If we change and the rest of the world doesn't, what's the point? China is the grossest polluter of atmosphere and earth in in the history of mankind, and has the capacity to prolong and sustain global climate change on its' own even if the entire rest of the world suddenly went completely green tomorrow.
Industrialized portions of South America, India, and Mexico are just as bad, if not worse, (Mexico especially), but all of those countries combined couldn't hold a candle to the China effect on our enviornment as it stands today.
Meanwhile back in the US, we seem to think that charging ridiculous prices for gasoline and forcing more industrialized businesses and jobs out of our country will solve this global issue.
The things we can do something about we don't.
Since we all like our electricity, we fire our power plants with coal, instead of hydro, solar, or nuclear alternatives. Where's the legislation outlawing coal fired power plants by 2025 and the funding and programs to make that happen?
No.
Instead, we put ridiculous mileage and emmissions requirements on vehicles that must be met by 2020 and fund that, rather than declaring gasoline fueled internal combustion engines obsolete and illegal to sell or produce by 2020. Have you ever stopped to think how old the technology of the internal combustion engine is? Why is it still here? Why aren't we looking at them in museums instead of in our driveways? Maybe the brotherhood of Big Oil and the US Auto Industry could answer that better than I.
If there is a global crisis concerning climate, then it must be solved globally, and with the worlds worst polluters leading the way instead of turning their backs.
We as a nation need to innovate alternatives to the old technologies that continue to add to the problem, and demand our government take effective measures, (not offer political lip service), to drastically curb, or completely eliminate, CO2 emmissions being contributed to the atmosphere by the industries and citizens of the United States.
Otherwise, what's the point of even talking about it any longer?
I am a senior citizen.
When I was a kid, I remember when you could have set Lake Erie on fire by merely tossing in a lit cigarette, that's how polluted it was. At that time, science said no life of any kind, (fish, plants, etc.), could possibly sustain or establish in Lake Erie for at least the next 1,000 years, that's how bad it was.
Yet, one of my great joys of retirement is catching walleyes in Lake Erie every year, and in my lifetime.
Mother Nature knows how to heal if you give Her a chance.

April 24 2013 at 4:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
gbaker9916

China isn't changing.

April 24 2013 at 2:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Chris Smith

Being that Global Warming ended 20 years ago, I guess it's not too late.

April 24 2013 at 12:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
alstenzel

Back in the 1930s and1940s almost everyone burned dirty coal in their furnaces, there were no anti-pollution laws, housewives had to put up with industrial flyash ruining the laundry drying on the clothlines in the back yard. Cars, city buses, trucks and aircraft burned leaded gasoline and there were no catylitic converters to clean the exhaust. Now, since all that has been fixed we find that man has ruined the climate with all of the anti-pollution laws and we now have global warming! Bring back the 1930s and 1940s!

April 24 2013 at 10:49 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
torandersen

"there must be money in it... which they are anticipating some 8 trillion a year of your money for starters"

April 24 2013 at 10:43 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
crazychris379

since man made global warming does not exist this story is stupid

April 24 2013 at 10:24 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply