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The silver lining at the end of the world

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Photo by NASA on Unsplash

The end of the world might inconvenience some of the giants of capitalism, but it isn’t all bad news.

Bank of America Corp. worries flooded homeowners will default on their mortgages. The Walt Disney Co. is concerned its theme parks will get too hot for vacationers, while AT&T Inc. fears hurricanes and wildfires may knock out its cell towers.

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The disclosures were collected by CDP, a U.K.-based nonprofit that asks companies to report their environmental impact, including the risks and opportunities they believe climate change presents for their businesses. More than 7,000 companies worldwide filed reports for 2018, including more than 1,800 from the U.S.

Expect corporations to move to secure rights to any water that is available in the area because one of the key concerns is drought.

“Many of Intel’s operations are located in semi-arid regions and water-stressed areas, such as Israel, China and the southwestern United States,” warned Intel Corp. If climate change causes longer droughts in those areas, it could “potentially lead to increased operational costs since the semiconductor manufacturing process relies on access to water.”

Water shortages could also threaten Coke’s business, the company said, because climate change “could limit water availability for the Coca-Cola system’s bottling operations.”

People, livestock and crops can make do with Brawndo Powerade™.

Other concerns include people failing to pay their mortgages just because their house is no shit for real underwater; people deciding not to travel as much because Carmine Zuigiber is abroad; and people not going to Disneyland because it is too hot.

Rising temperatures are already affecting “the comfort and health and well being of customers” in its theme parks, Disney wrote. “If measures are not taken to ensure low cost alternatives for cooling and managing extreme temperatures, this will not only negatively impact our customers experience, it will also impact our ability to attract and retain visitor numbers.”

I wonder if the amount of money spent on researching low-cost attempts to turn down the temperature on the outdoors be measured in millions or billions? I also feel a bit nervous when I hear that a corporation that is best known for its property in Florida is worried about it getting too hot.

But other companies think the end of the world could be good news. At least for them and any stockholders who have enough money to sit out the end in comfort. For example Wells-Fargo, which is what you’d get if Dick Cheney were a bank, thinks more natural disasters will mean more people financing reconstruction of buildings destroyed by natural disasters. Home Depot thinks more people will need air conditioners and ceiling fans as things heat up. Google admits that the end of the world could reduce the demand for online advertising, but more people might like to use Google Earth to see the the effects of natural disasters on the planet.

“If customers value Google Earth Engine as a tool to examine the physical changes to the Earth’s natural resources and climate, this could result in increased customer loyalty or brand value,” Google wrote. “This opportunity driver could have a positive impact on our brands.”

And one company thinks its product will become a modern day Swiss Army Knife.

Picture this: It’s after sunset and a tornado has just reduced much of your neighborhood to kindling. The power is down and your neighbors are starting to look through the rubble for survivors, but for some reason, no one has a flashlight. So you all pull out their iPhones and use those to light your way.

“As people begin to experience severe weather events with greater frequency, we expect an increasing need for confidence and preparedness in the arena of personal safety and the well-being of loved ones,’’ the company wrote. Its mobile devices “can serve as a flashlight or a siren; they can provide first aid instructions; they can act as a radio; and they can be charged for many days via car batteries or even hand cranks.’’

I am not a prepper but I see several flaws in relying on a small, relatively fragile, infrastructure-dependent device that dies when it gets wet to get me through a disaster. But maybe the statement from Apple is a preview of the next phone. “The iPhone XTRM, starting at $15,000. Built to survive the end of the world. Unless the end of the world is really damp.”

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