Commentary: Weather events, not climate change
“U.S. small businesses are particularly at risk from extreme weather and climate change and must take steps to adapt, according to a new report from Small Business Majority (SBM) and the American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC).”
That first paragraph from a news release will turn off more than a few ag professionals, as I’ve been castigated for even mentioning “climate change” and called a liberal zealot for including anything remotely connected to weather change or long-term weather patterns on AgProfessional.com, in e-newsletters or in the magazine.
People who don’t believe that the weather might be different in the next 100 years than the last 100 years get as worked up as those who condemn Monsanto for continuing in business. At least that is my experience.
If the two organizations who compiled the extreme weather report had simply seen fit to exclude climate change and referred to the weather extremes that we’ve gone through in the last couple years, and might go through in the next few years, then many of those unbelievers of climate change would probably agree with most of the findings.
As the summary of the report notes, “because small businesses are distinctly critical to the U.S. economy, and at the same time uniquely vulnerable to damage from extreme weather events, collective actions by the small business community could have an enormous impact on insulating the U.S. economy from climate risk.”
The report investigator/authors used case studies from the retail, tourism, landscape architecture, agriculture, roofing and small-scale manufacturing sectors of the U.S. economy to make the point that small businesses are usually hurt worse from such weather events as hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and drought.
Following are some of the facts about small businesses and disaster recovery. The analysis seems in line with what happens if a tornado hits a rural community, agricultural area of the U.S.
“Small businesses employ approximately 60 million Americans, or nearly half of the entire U.S. workforce.
“According to NOAA, 2011 and 2012 were the two most extreme years on record for destructive weather events, which caused a total of more than $170 billion in damages, much of that to businesses.
“Lacking access to the capital and resources of large corporations, small businesses can suffer lasting economic damage as a result of a single extreme weather event. For example, of the 60,000 to 100,000 small businesses negatively affected by Hurricane Sandy, up to 30 percent are estimated to have failed as a direct result of the storm.
“An estimated 25 percent of small to mid-sized businesses do not reopen following a major disaster.
“The median cost of downtime from a small business affected by an extreme weather event is $3,000 per day. Small businesses’ physical assets tend to be more concentrated: A single building or factory could represent most of the book value of a small business, whereas large businesses benefit from greater geographic diversification.
“The majority of small businesses have not closely analyzed the potential economic losses from extreme weather events or other climate-related risks, in part due to a lack of resources to do so. In fact, 57 percent of small businesses have no disaster recovery plan, and for those small businesses that do have continuity, or risk management plans, 90 percent spend less than one day a month preparing and maintaining them.
So, what turns off the anti-weather-change believers is that the report suggests how climate change is creating these extreme weather change events.
How about we not squabble about what creates these extreme weather events and agree that some small businesses—including farmers, ag retailers, small ag equipment manufacturers, grain elevators, cooperatives, etc.—are vulnerable to not being able to rebuild and staying in business should a weather event destroy their operation.
“Small businesses must recognize both their vulnerability to these changing climate conditions and their role as critical participants in national climate preparedness. According to a June 2013 poll by SBM, one-third of small business owners report they have been personally affected by extreme weather, and 57 percent believe extreme weather events are an urgent problem,” the organization noted in its news release.
And there is that climate change wording that infuriates many in agriculture but appears to be accepted more by those outside of agriculture, from what I can determine.
Let’s just leave it at whoever wants to try and sway concern for small businesses having safety net programs, whether private or government, join hands. This joining together to achieve a goal can be like all of agriculture. One commodity organization to the next disagrees on several matters, but in the end they agree that the image of farming needs to be one of family-run businesses growing the majority of crops and livestock to feed an ever-increasing world population.
If major weather disasters are climate change related or not, they are still disasters that need dealt with.
ASBC describes itself as informing and engaging policy makers and the public about the need and opportunities for building a vibrant and sustainable economy, and it has a website of http://www.asbcouncil.org.
SBM describes itself as a national small business advocacy organization, founded and run by small business owners, to support America’s 28 million small businesses. Its website is http://www.smallbusinessmajority.org.
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