For Small Businesses

What Small Business Owners Need to Know About Global Warming

1. Small businesses may be among the hardest hit victims of climate change.

Extreme weather events can wipe out an entire region’s small businesses in one fell swoop. And because most small firms operate on slim profit margins, they can’t bounce back from disruptions caused by natural disasters. Look, for example, at the impact of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita on small businesses in the Gulf Coast region, where they constituted the backbone of the economy.

Some industries that consist almost entirely of small businesses are already feeling the heat. In Vermont, for example, where the maple syrup industry is an integral part of the economy, tappers are experiencing adverse effects of global warming. Researchers have found statistical evidence that cold-loving maples yield less sap in warmer winters. An analysis of syrup production over the past eight decades shows a decline in every New England state except Maine, the only one to buck the warming trend.

There are numerous other small business industries under the gun. In California, for example, both the ski industry and some leaders of the wine industry actively supported the state’s tough new global warming law.
2. A scientific consensus has formed.

All small business advocates – whatever their politics or philosophy – need to take a fresh hard look at the mounting scientific evidence that global warming is here and now. The best and truest interests of the small business constituency deserve no less.
3. Tough government action to combat global warming is increasingly likely

Small business owners need to recognize that the train has left the station. Small businesses will inevitably be affected by these measures.