Risky Business Addresses Economic Costs of Climate Change

A new organization has formed to get the US to address climate change, and this one has some big personalities behind it: it is co-chaired by NYC Mayor Bloomberg, former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and retired hedge fund manager turned climate activist, Tom Steyer.

The US is not addressing climate change in the way it needs to so the group has set out to quantify the economic costs that unmitigated climate change will present.

Over the next year, "Risky Business" will do the research and then publicize their findings on the economic risks of climate change to the US. The report will be released next summer.

"Every day across America, families and businesses take out insurance policies to protect themselves against adverse risks.  As a nation, why aren’t we taking this approach toward the catastrophic risks of climate change?," asks Hank Paulson. 

"The best science tells us that extreme weather events may become more frequent," says Mayor Bloomberg. "To better protect our whole country we need a national risk assessment that will accurately assess the costs of these events."

"If the business of the United States is business, we need to frame climate change in economic language; we need to set the business context," says Tom Steyer. 

"The fact that private insurers are leaving the table sends an unmistakable signal. It tells us that climate change risks are increasing and their costs to our society are climbing," he says.

They plan to engage those economic sectors most at risk, helping industry leaders prepare. 

"In sectors across our economy – finance, health, agriculture, national security – it’s standard practice to evaluate and quantify potential risks before making important investments," says Kate Gordon, Executive Director of Risky Business. "But we haven’t yet done that when it comes to climate change, even though we’re seeing more and more climate impacts every day. Through the Risky Business project, we intend to solve that problem."

Risky Business is a joint initiative of Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Office of Hank Paulson, and the non-profit, Next Generation.

Billionaire Tom Steyer recently launched a $1 million ad campaign to air across the US opposing the Keystone tar sands pipeline: "Bringing Down TransCanada’s House of Cards: The Keystone Chronicles."

He spent $32 million of his own money to get California’s Clean Energy Jobs Act passed, which will provide $500 million annually for the next five years to increase energy efficiency at schools.

Here is the Risky Business website:

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Comments on “Risky Business Addresses Economic Costs of Climate Change”

  1. Mark Goldes

    Risk assessment is important.

    However, even more urgent is demonstrating that fossil fuels can be superseded far more rapidly.

    An engine that needs no fuel can do the trick. Designed to run on atmospheric heat instead of fuel, an idea first proposed by Nikola Tesla, a desktop prototype is en-route.

    See THE LITTLE ENGINE THAT CAN at http://www.aesopinstitute.org

    Once validated by an independent lab desktop engines will be produced to power electronic devices 24/7. Engineers agree that these engines can be scaled to replace stationary diesel engines of any size.

    This will demonstrate, rather than argue, that new science can cost-effectively accelerate alternatives to fossil fuels.

  2. PhysicsReviewBoard

    Mark Goldes’ proofless claims regarding his Aesop Institute’s make-believe strictly ambient heat engine do not represent any new technology, or even a new pretense – they merely represent a rather old pretense.

    “Before the establishment of the Second Law, many people who were interested in inventing a perpetual motion machine had tried to circumvent the restrictions of First Law of Thermodynamics by extracting the massive internal energy of the environment as the power of the machine. Such a machine is called a “perpetual motion machine of the second kind”. The second law declared the impossibility of such machines.”


    “A perpetual motion machine of the second kind is a machine which spontaneously converts thermal energy into mechanical work. When the thermal energy is equivalent to the work done, this does not violate the law of conservation of energy. However it does violate the more subtle second law of thermodynamics (see also entropy). The signature of a perpetual motion machine of the second kind is that there is only one heat reservoir involved, which is being spontaneously cooled without involving a transfer of heat to a cooler reservoir. This conversion of heat into useful work, without any side effect, is impossible, according to the second law of thermodynamics.”


    Goldes’ make-believe strictly ambient heat engine would be a perpetual motion machine of the second kind, as defined above. Goldes is not developing any such engine; he is merely developing a pretense – as usual.

    A block of ice just below the freezing point is far above absolute zero, so it actually contains plenty of heat. Can we take advantage of this to boil a pot of water, by setting it down on a block of ice?

    Expecting an ambient heat engine to do any work, with only one heat reservoir, is exactly equivalent to expecting a teapot to boil water by absorbing heat from a block of ice.

    Both processes are ruled out by the very same law – the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

    An engine that only uses ambient heat would need to be able to DECREASE the entropy of the universe. The Second Law tells us that we can never decrease the entropy of the universe, or of an isolated system.

    As a consequence of this law:

    “It is impossible for any device operating on a cycle to produce net work from a single temperature reservoir; the production of net work requires flow of heat from a hotter reservoir to a colder reservoir.”


    In the make-believe strictly ambient heat engine there are not two heat reservoirs at different temperatures; no reservoir would be available at any temperature other than the ambient temperature. No matter what cycle we design with this constraint, we will find that the cycle would have to be able to decrease the entropy of the universe in order to do any work.

    The formulation of the Second Law of Thermodynamics as a constraint on entropy change is one of the most beautifully simple, and well-established, laws of physics.

    The Second Law tells us that we can never build an engine that does some work with heat taken from a heat reservoir, without also transferring some heat to another reservoir at a lower temperature.

    An equivalent statement is that we can’t decrease the total entropy of an isolated system.

    The entropy change differential due to heat transfer to or from a reservoir is inversely related to the temperature at which the transfer occurs. The consequence is that transferring heat INTO a cold reservoir produces a larger GAIN in entropy, than the LOSS of entropy that occurs due to transfer of the same amount of heat FROM a hot reservoir. This noteworthy and remarkable inequality enables a heat engine to use some heat to do some work without violating the Second Law – as long as it can make use of two different heat reservoirs, at different temperatures. The ambient-heat-powered engine only involves a single reservoir, at a single temperature (at any given moment). Use of heat from the single reservoir would reduce the entropy of the reservoir, and with no colder reservoir, the engine has no way to compensate by increasing the entropy anywhere else. Therefore we know for certain that the engine will disappoint us. It will never be able to do any work.

    In Mark Goldes’ patent application for his “POWERGENIE” horn-powered tuning-rod engine, he described the tuning-rod as “an energy transfer and multiplier element.”

    But of course, for the tuning-rod to “multiply” energy, it would need to disprove the law of conservation of energy. (Obviously the Patent Office should never have allowed such a description.)

    Goldes’ use of the term “energy multiplier element” reflects his pretense that the “revolutionary breakthrough” of the amazing “POWERGENIE” could disprove the law of conservation of energy, by presenting the world with a working “energy multiplier.”

    Goldes even claimed in 2008 that the POWERGENIE had been demonstrated already in an electric car, driven 4800 miles by his energy-multiplying horn-powered tuning-rod.

    But it seems that most people, for some reason, had difficulty accepting the notion that the law of conservation of energy could be proven false.

    And Goldes no doubt noticed that the Second Law of Thermodynamics – that “the entropy of an isolated system tends to increase with time and can never decrease” – is much less clear to most people than the conservation of energy.

    So now, after leaving aside the pretense that he could somehow “multiply energy” with a magnetized tuning-rod, Goldes has chosen to focus, instead, on the pretense that he can disprove the Second Law with an engine powered only by ambient heat.

    Once again: Expecting an ambient heat engine to do any work, with only one heat reservoir, is exactly equivalent to expecting a teapot to boil water by absorbing heat from a block of ice. Anyone who claims to be developing a “prototype” of such an engine is only developing a pretense, and nothing more.

    There is no “new science” in any of Goldes’ “revolutionary breakthroughs.” There is only pseudoscience and pretense – and nothing new, at all.



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