The Costs of Fixing Climate Change

I has been my experience that colleagues who do not subscribe to climate change will frequently modify their position in conversation.  They may, in fact believe that the climate is changing, and they may also believe that man is a (if not the) driving force of this change.

But they will then acknowledge that the cost of cutting carbon emissions would be ruinous to the economy.  In other words, their objection to climate change is ultimately a financial objection, not a philosophical objection.  And indeed, common knowledge is that converting from fossil fuels to “renewable” energy sources will be extremely, perhaps unbearably, painful from a cost perspective.

So it was with some surprise that I ran across this article in today’s New York Times, discussing a report claiming that by some accountings that take into consideration the “externalities” associated with fossil fuel combustion – such as improved health outcomes due to reduced pollution, and reduced energy costs driven by reduced scarcity – the cost to covert to renewables might be surprisingly low.  Perhaps even zero.

I recommend that you read the column here:

http://tinyurl.com/k456d37

(My apologies if this is blocked by a pay wall.  Am not sure on Times’ content policy.)

The report being discussed was assembled by the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate.  Unfortunately I cannot link to their site right now,  but here is a description of the Commission, as well as a link to their site.

http://www.sei-international.org/projects?prid=2046

If nothing else, this is an unambiguously upbeat message, and it is important that it directly addresses some of the “common knowledge” that certain constituencies use to avoid grappling with the significant issues that may arise if we refuse to address our dumping of carbon dioxide into the air.

And as I have said elsewhere, even if one sincerely does not believe that carbon dioxide causes atmospheric climate change, there is unambiguous data demonstrating that it causes ocean acidification that is already affecting ocean life.  In other words, there is no logical reason to dismiss the need to examine our use of fossil fuels, and there are reasons to hope that the report discussed in this column is at least approximately correct in it’s optimistic outlook.

 

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This entry was posted in Climate.

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