Ernst Weizsäcker
Co-chair, U.N. International Panel for Sustainable Resource Management

More Action on Hurricanes

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The chances for getting climate change policies through Congress—or through Parliaments worldwide—are greatly improving thanks, in part, to the terrible tragedy of Hurricane Katrina.

Ernst Weizsäcker

Ernst Weizsäcker is co-chair of the U.N.’s International Panel for Sustainable Resource Management. He has served as the policy director at the United Nations Centre for Science and Technology for Development, director of the Institute for European Environmental Policy, and president of the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment, and Energy. He is a member of the Club of Rome, a global think tank devoted to improving society, and he served on the World Commission on the Social Dimensions of Globalization.

He has also served as a member of the Bundestag, the federal parliament of Germany, where he was appointed chairman of the Environmental Committee. Additionally, he has taught as a professor of interdisciplinary biology and was the founding president of the University of Kassel in Germany. Weizsäcker has authored several influential books on the environment, most recently, "Factor Five: Transforming the Global Economy through 80% Improvements in Resource Productivity."

Question: Is there anything we can do to stop the increase in tropical storms? 

Ernst Weizsäcker: It is a fact that the terrible tragedy of the Katrina Hurricane destroying much of New Orleans has created a lot of awareness in America on the dangers of climate change and if an increase of heavy storm events leads to more awareness building in the United States, but also in the tropical countries, of course, then the chances for getting not-so-popular policies through Congress, or through the respective Parliaments worldwide, are greatly improving.  But one should not fall into the illusion of quick battle winds.  If we move into the right direction, it may still take 20, even 50 years before good results can be measured.  But this is not an argument against doing it because if we continue hesitating, then the price will be much higher; the damage will be much bigger.  This is the reasoning of Lord Stern in the Stern Review, and later of saying, the longer we wait, the more expensive will the transition be.  So, we’d better act now.

Recorded on April 9, 2010