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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    For sale: Yuma beachfront

    I just finished booking a flight for a study abroad trip this summer.

    For the first time, I had to factor in the probabilities of a possible bankruptcy into my purchases.

    The last few weeks have seen an avalanche of airline mergers and setbacks. American Airlines was forced to ground over 1,000 flights when Federal Aviation Administration inspectors discovered they were using Styrofoam for their peanuts (or something of the sort). The CEOs of Northwest and Delta Airlines just announced a future merger which has almost “”no impediments.”” United and U.S. Airways have also announced a merger.

    Oil wells sputter sludge, airline prices rise and capitalism continues to shed weak fur in an economy pressed by climate change. Major structural changes, such as those seen in the airline industry, are the types of shifts we can expect to see more of in the future if climatologists’ predictions – even conservative estimates – come true. Even though we may grow weary of green-and-blue Earth Day confetti, the economic changes ahead are inevitable. Travelers and consumers would be wise to plan for these changes and invest ahead of time.

    If predictions are correct, water levels will likely rise between two and five feet over the next 50 years. Oceanographers assert that for every sea level increase, erosion will be close to 50 times that amount of rise. This means all regions at or just above sea level will soon see dramatic changes. Goodbye beautiful southern California. Adios Cancún. Sayonara Okinawa. Along with higher water levels come increased surface temperatures. A United Nations Environment Program report predicted that higher sea surface temperatures over the coming decades may bleach and kill up to 80 percent of the Earth’s coral reef tourist attractions.

    Modes of transportation will also be forced to change. According to a special report by The Economist, airline fuel prices have doubled in the past few years. Fuel now accounts for as much as 10-30 percent of operating costs. Despite these rising pressures, the United Nations World Tourism Organization reported in January that tourism saw a 6 percent increase in 2007. The 898 million arrivals registered mark the highest number of world travels in history.

    Because of their inherent dependency on fuel and preserving vacation spots, tourism and environmental movements have become increasingly interconnected. Eco-tourism agencies promote “”green”” traveling and seek to raise awareness for areas of the world that need protection.

    Eco-travelers may soon be able to buy surprising luxuries though, like Colombian wine and Norwegian truffles. Luxury food producers, such as wine makers and truffle growers, have started to plan for climate change. A 2007 study from Purdue University argued that global warming will reduce viable wine grape acreage in the United States by more than 80 percent. The Napa Valley Vintners Association has, in response, created a Climate Change Task Force to prepare for temperature changes in the wine industry. Just last year, French wine producers bought vineyards in, believe it or not, England. What is the world coming to when we have to drink French wine grown in the Queen’s garden?

    Don’t get too excited. We won’t even be able eat California cheese with our

    Anglo-Frenchie wine. Coastal regions are in the most dangerous position. More than $3 trillion are invested in real estate along the coasts of the U.S., and more than 155 million people live in coastal counties. But as the tragic events of Hurricane Katrina show, there is a price to be paid for a waterfront vista.

    There is much debate about how to respond to changing coastlines, balancing probable environmental long term costs and short term property gains. But knowing the right value of these coasts is a headache insurance companies and real estate agents must endure. According to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, within 60 years, nearly one out of every four of the more than 350,000 homes and buildings close to the ocean will be destroyed.

    What are we to do?

    Well, I just got a free water bottle for promising to recycle. I think that’s a good start. Next, traveling to the exotic parts of the world while they are still exotic is a must. Then, spend the remainder of your money on a future beach front in Yuma. The going rate for two-and-a-half acres on Craigslist is only $25,000 bucks.

    Or, relax and be realistic. Sometimes it is best not to ruminate too much on something. The best we can do is to be attentive and conservative in our use of natural resources.

    Unfortunately I just booked my flight for the wrong month.

    Matt Rolland is a junior majoring in economics and international studies. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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