Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes
John Daley reportingAs the earth warms so, too, do the economic costs, growing, exponentially. That's one message for the gathering of 45 U.S. mayors called the Sundance Summit.
Climate change scientists at this conference say if the environmental impacts of global warming don't worry you, consider something else--the cost in dollars, billions of dollars.
Global warming, melting ice sheets at the poles, melting glaciers here in the Rockies.
At the Sundance Summit, mayors from around the nation are learning about the dangers from experts like Jean-Michel Cousteau, son of world-famous oceanographer Jacques Cousteau.
Jean-Michel Cousteau/ President, Ocean Futures Society: "The house is on fire. This is no joke."
Consider the cleanup costs of the latest hurricane to hit the east coast, or the spectacular flooding that hit Washington County in January.
While no single weather event can be blamed on global warming, climate scientists say with a warming globe we can expect more extreme weather.
Dr. Heidi Cullen/ Climate Expert, The Weather Channel: "All you can say is that in the big picture, when you roll that roulette wheel, you've got a greater probability of seeing those events now."
Researchers have calculated the rising global cost of catastophic events. In the 80s it cost 4 billion dollars a year. In the 90s, 40 billion a year. Last year it was more than 143 billlion dollars a year, and industry is taking notice.
Dr. Paul Epstein/ Harvard Medical School: "It's beginning to affect the bottom line of the property and casualty, life and health and investment portfolios of the insurance industry."
Leaders of this conference say cutting our fossil fuel use is now key.
Robert Redford/ Actor, Director: "The solutions themselves will save money, protect the environmnet and protect public health."
Former Vice-President Al Gore spoke to the mayors tonight, but that was a closed-door session, closed to the media.
Tuesday the mayors are expected to develop a plan of action they can adopt in their hometowns.