By Greg Douglas, Director of Business Development, Earth Networks
Earth Networks is a member of Oxfam America’s new Partnership for Resilience and Environmental Preparedness (PREP) alliance – a group of companies with a deep interest in supporting responsible business practices that help both businesses and communities prepare and adapt to climate change.
As part of our involvement with PREP, I recently spoke with other members as part of a panel discussion at a business briefing in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill. The event provided a fascinating and important look into how extreme weather impacts the global supply chains of leading consumer brands, including Levi Strauss & Co. and Limited Brands.
My contribution to the discussion centered on the mounting evidence indicating the frequency and intensity of severe weather events, both in the U.S. and internationally. Consider that $200B is lost annually due to severe weather. For instance, in agriculture, climate change has been linked to changes in crop yields with temperature playing a bigger role than precipitation. For businesses relying on key staples such as cotton, it is easy to understand how lost yields can take their toll on even the most robust supply chain.
Thinking broadly, many business sectors that play key roles in the supply chain can be devastated by extreme weather, including energy and utilities, transportation, and aviation – just to name a few.
Extreme weather also comes with a big price tag. In spite of investing as a nation more than $5B in the some of the best weather technology available over the last 30 years, we suffered 14, $1B weather disasters in the U.S. last year. Now just imagine the devastation and toll that would likely have occurred without advancements in weather technology and innovations in severe weather warning.
Now consider the fate of most other countries that have not invested $5B. Access to severe weather warnings is often limited or completely unavailable. While many in the U.S. do not think twice about having the weather forecast and weather alerting at their fingertips through mobile phones, TV and online, it’s a luxury that is currently out of reach for approximately 6.5 billion people in the world.
Fortunately, new technologies hold the promise of changing this. Here at Earth Networks, our weather and lightning networks enable us to offer a radar-like solution at a fraction of the cost. In addition, our lightning network also enables us to warn in advance of severe weather and deliver alerts directly via mobile apps and online. We strongly believe our technology will level the playing field by providing alerts to potentially billions worldwide when minutes can and often do make the difference between life and death.