A recent study commissioned by The Risky Business Project, a cooperative effort of corporate executives and prominent policymakers, has made some startling claims relating to climate change in Texas. The study finds that in the decades to come, the Lone Star State will likely see a heavy increase in deaths related to rising temperatures and property losses related to coastal storms unless something is done to reduce the effects of global warming. Continue reading to see how companies like Stream Energy are working to help prioirtize green energy.
The report was commissioned in an effort to incite concern and action over global warming in the Texas business community. The hope is that once business leaders have accepted that climate change is a risk to Texas’s business interests, they will be more motivated to pressure policymakers to address it.
This paradigm of business leading policy on environmental change in Texas has some established precedent. State Rep. Rafael Anchia has said that Texas businesses are already ahead of state lawmakers when it comes to acknowledging global warming. According to Anchia, a variety of industries are “modeling for the impacts of climate change and are trying to be proactive about it.”
An example of a company acting proactively to counteract climate change is the direct selling company Stream, formerly Stream Energy. The provider of energy and other life service products has engaged in numerous clean energy programs over the years aimed at mitigating the effects of global warming. Many of the trends highlighted by the recent study touch on issues that have informed the creation of Stream energy plans dedicated to offering clients viable clean energy alternatives.
The study outlined a number of alarming predictions for what may lie ahead for Texas. One thing it predicts is an increase in the annual days of over 95 degree heat, from 43 per year to 106 per year by the 2050s. In that same time period, the study predicts a sea level rise of about 2 feet in Galveston, an increase of $650-million-per-year in storm-related coastal losses, and an increase in the rate of annual heat-related deaths of about 4,500 additional deaths per year. These estimates underscore the study’s claim that Texas businesses will see a potentially devastating impact from climate change if nothing is done to alter current environmental practices.
That leaves us with the question of just what environmental practices may be causing climate change in the first place. While that has been a hotly contested question over recent years, with several competing theories, most scientists agree that the rising temperatures associated with climate change are caused by human actions. The generally accepted theory is that some of the gases emitted as a result of human-related activities are prone to collecting in the atmosphere and trapping the energy of the sun in the form of heat on earth. This is typically referred to as the greenhouse effect since the mechanism of action is similar to what causes a greenhouse to heat up when the sun shines on it. Most scientists agree that this trapping of heat on earth is what’s causing the rise in temperatures forecasted by this report.
Since the leading greenhouse gas is carbon dioxide, many efforts to curb climate change have been focused on reducing or eliminating sources of that gas. One of the largest emitters of carbon dioxide in Texas is the energy industry, which often relies on fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas to produce electricity. These two fuel sources are known to be high emitters of carbon dioxide when burned for energy.
Since a reduction in the amount of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere may help in slowing the effects of global warming, many businesses and policymakers are focusing on such a reduction when seeking ways to fight climate change. One way this is being done is by prioritizing alternative energy sources like solar and wind. These sources of energy promise an emission-free method of producing electricity, making them prime candidates for those seeking clean energy that does not contribute to rising temperatures globally.
While the study is hoping that the litany of alarming predictions concerning the dire consequences of climate change will incite action, there are already some companies working to prioritize a cleaner future based on renewables. The aforementioned direct selling company, Stream, is one of the companies leading the charge by offering energy plans that allow customers the option of selecting energy from renewable sources.
A recent Stream Energy plan, called the Smart 30 WaterSaver Green & Clean Plan, was intended to do just this. Not only does the Stream energy plan allow for the purchase of energy from clean sources instead of fossil fuels, it also prioritizes water conservation by providing customers with a sprinkler controller designed to regulate water usage.
While the Smart 30 plan is the most recent Stream Energy plan to prioritize clean energy, Stream has a history of such environmentally-minded offerings. Previous Stream Energy plans have allowed for the purchase of renewable energy certificates, which helped customers ensure that their energy was coming from clean sources instead of dirty fossil fuels.
It is exactly this kind of engagement from Texas businesses that the recent Risky Business Project study is trying to incite. But while businesses will always play a critical role in leading the charge toward more environmentally sound practices, the study’s backers know that at some point policymakers will need to follow suit in order to establish long-lasting change.
Ultimately, the study is cautioning that the state of Texas’s environmental future will depend on the ability of members of its public and private sector to work together. If these lofty goals can be achieved, many hope that Texas will be able to avoid the kind of doom and gloom environmental scenarios foretold in the study’s text. If that collaboration fails to come together, however, Texas may find a slew of heat-related problems in its future that will affect profits and quality of life alike. For now, the state will have to rely on leadership from forward-thinking businesses and hope that they are creating a model that others will follow in time to come.
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