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Corporations betting on climate change

By Betty Kowall     Apr 21, 2010 in Business
Attacks against climate change science have grown in recent months in the media. In the boardrooms of the world however the game is betting on climate change by figuring out how to profit from it. Big business is taking climate change seriously.
Across the world companies are taking climate change seriously. They are coldly calculating what warming will cost them and what opportunities it offers.
Last year two German ships transited the northeast passage across the top of the EurAsian land mass. They are members of the Beluga Shipping Fleet:
Both vessels set sails in July from Ulsan in South Korea. They entered the Northern Sea Route via the inspection point at Vladivostok, Russia, in order to deliver project cargoes to Novyy Port/Yamburg in the River Ob delta - further into the region than any other merchant vessel had previously managed. Forty four modules with single weights of 200 tonnes, ore more, were discharged offshore onto barges using the ship`s onboard cranes for on-transport to Surgut, Russia.
According to Mark Serreze, director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado, “We are seeing an expression of climate change here,’’ said “The Arctic is warming; we’re losing the sea ice cover. The more frequent opening of that Northeast Passage is part of the process we’re seeing.’’
The opening of the north-east (and north-west) passages has changed global shipping patterns and has also changed global skiing patterns
Europe's ski resorts tend to be located on lower mountains—about 6,000 to 8,000 feet high, compared to American peaks up around 11,000 feet—so they're vulnerable to even extremely tiny increases in global temperature. The 2 percent rise in the 20th century was enough to put a lot of them out of business.
But now Colorado is also feeling the pinch. Auden Schendler, executive director of sustainability for the Aspen Skiing Company, which operates two resorts spread across four mountains, knows Aspen's own season is getting shorter: "More balmy Novembers, more rainy Marches. That's what we're seeing, and that's what the science suggests would happen. If you graph frost-free days, there are more and more in the last 30 years."
Both of the above changes impact on insurance rates. The north-east passage is faster but riskier than alternatives. With shorter seasons ski lodges may be able to reduce their liability premiums. These multiple shifts have impacted the reinsurance industry. They have also added greater gravity to computer modeling and weather forecasting over a longer and longer term.
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