In June 2006, when Treasury & Risk ran a cover on climate change, I received more e-mails than I have on any subject in the five years I have been here. The majority said simply, "Thanks. I need to know more about this"--or something to that effect. A few confessed to being sincerely concerned. Then, there were several that wondered why the magazine was so blindly accepting warnings that global warming was even a reality, that our editors had been duped by a tree-hugging conspiracy to deprive us of our sport utility vehicles. Those troubled me, since there seems to be a relatively solid consensus in the scientific community--and even in parts of the risk management community--that not only is climate change a reality, but that the earth may in fact be approaching a tipping point beyond which we will be powerless to prevent a hotter, less inhabitable planet. Admittedly, that is an unimaginable prospect more suited to science fiction than journalism, but one that we may need to accept as a possible scenario if we are ever to marshal our intellectual and innovative prowess against it. But let's say the doomsayers are wrong and the problem is not imminent. Is it wiser to bet on that possibility or the possibility that they are correct? Would it be negligent? Perhaps, leaders of the European Union, which recently proposed unilateral cutbacks on carbon dioxide emissions, are indeed "quasi hysterical that the sky is falling," as the chief economist of DaimlerChrysler said others--not him, of course--had described them. Should we as a nation or a planet worry more about being Chicken Littles--or ostriches with our heads baking in the sand?
From the February 2007 issue of Treasury & Risk magazine