Will global warming eventually cost the world’s economy $12 trillion? I’ve got no clue. I mean, even the specialists who’ve studied the economic impacts of climate change have no real idea. The latest figure is just their best guess.
But this much is clear: no matter whether this estimate is on the mark, thinking about the cost of “business as usual”—i.e., the cost of doing nothing about global warming—is exactly the right framework for thinking about the issue.
I can’t count the times I’ve read a claim to this effect: “Even if climate change is really happening, it’ll cost a heck of a lot of money to do something about it.” And often, the analysis stops right there.
That’s just dopey.
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A few years back, we painted our house. It was expensive, sure. But not painting it would have been even more expensive—we would have saved on paint and supplies in the short term, but we would have eventually paid much, much more to repair water damage. And pretending that there’s a third choice—like, neither painting nor suffering water damage—would have been magical thinking at best, and delusional at worst.
Just so, fighting global warming may well be expensive (though I anticipate that the early stages will actually make the economy more resilient—which is a story for another day). But letting global warming run amok will be expensive too—probably more expensive than doing nothing. Tallying up the cost of fighting global warming, without a serious and sober look at the cost of doing nothing, is the sort of basic error that ought to get you laughed out of Accounting 101.
Which is why studies that look at the cost of global warming’s “business as usual” scenarios are so important. They make it much easier to see the full consequences of climate policy choices—and much harder for global warming skeptics to pretend that all the costs of cimate change wind up on one side of the ledger.
I never understand why “global warming” seems to be divorced from energy use and energy decline!Do I just imagine it, or is “fighting global warming” really a code phrase for “reducing energy use”?Any energy that does not come from the sun comes from combustion, and combustion puts carbon in the atmosphere. Yea, there’s talk of sequestration, but that in itself requires lots of energy, which requires—you guessed it—burning something!As a staunch supporter of going on an energy diet before nature forces energy starvation on us all, I love it that fighting global warming unequivocally requires reducing energy usage.Or am I missing something? Is it possible for soccer moms to drive to the shopping center for a loaf of bread (using many times the energy content of that loaf of bread in the process) in their hybrid or hydrogen SUV and still fight global warming?I submit not—fighting global warming is fighting energy consumption—and I think greenies should be up-front about this.Sure, it will make the fight more difficult than if we lie and hoax millions of people into thinking they can save the polar bears and maintain their energy profligate life-style at the same time, but we can’t expect to occupy the moral high ground while sugar-coating the sacrifices required.
Jan, I agree with you. The best and easiest way to slow global warming is to reduce energy consumption. Compared to most other strategies, it counts as low hanging fruit, and it helps us soften the effect of the depletion of our fossil energy sources. The green folks I’ve talked to are pretty clear on this as well. As to why there isn’t more about energy conservation in the press, it may have to do with business people being very nervous about what would happen if we were to start conserving. I just read The End of Oil, by Paul Roberts, in which he does a very good job of going inside the thinking of many of the players in the oil world. The picture that emerges is that while people in the industry give some thought to the longer range issues, they feel unable to address them without a strong lead from someone else (eg, government). In the meantime, they are very sensitive about things that affect their near-term situation. A major shift toward conservation would be really scary, not just for the oil industry but for business in general.You may be thinking, “well too bad! It’s going to be a whole lot worse if we don’t get going with conservation and everything else we can do.” I certainly agree. We absolutely should push hard to conserve energy. I was glad to read this book, though, and get an idea of why so many people who seem to be in a position to do something useful are putting the brakes on instead. It’s another place where much of the leadership will have to come from the bottom.
Prof. Bijon B. Sarma
GLOBAL WARMING/DIMMING ANDA DREAM-SOLUTION TO SAVE A SUBMERGING COUNTRY (Part TWO)Prof. Bijon B. Sarma RISE IN THE LEVEL OF SEA WATER : We have discussed the various factors relating to Global warming. Now we shall briefly describe how those factors help to increase the level of sea water. (i) GLOBAL WARMING : Global warming is caused due to heat emission, earth’s inability to absorb heat and its inability to dissipate heat (Green house effect). The net effect of these phenomenons is increase of temperature around the earth. This temperature helps to melt the polar ice cap, mountain ice cap and ice berg. The water released from these sources causes the level of sea water to rise. (ii). GLOBAL DIMMING : Global dimming caused by black particle emission and con-tail effect increase atmospheric temperature on one hand and reduce evaporation of water from the sea. Both helps to increase the level of water. It has been predicted that the first victims of water rise will be the following areas and countries : (i) Southern region of Bangladesh, (ii) Florida of USA and (iii) Maldives. Various international organizations have been campaigning for creation of awareness to reduce Global warming and Dimming. In view of its extremely negligible success it may be said that huge money has been wasted. Intelligent persons are in great doubt if any such endeavor will at all be able to stop this hazard. Those who are hopeful may ask the following questions to themselves : (i) Would the developed countries agree to avoid or reduce the use of vehicles and aero planes in order to reduce heat and black particle emission ? (ii) Would it possible for the developing and rice-producing countries to stop growing rice or avoid cows in order to eliminate the principal sources of Methane ? (iii) Do anyone believe that the rate of deforestation will come down in the coming years ? (iv) Is it possible to stop the earth from emitting heat and black particles from its core ? Or, stop releasing Methane gas from the sea bed ? In such a situation, the god fearing persons may rely on god’s blessings, the fate-believers may wait to face their destinies, the lovers of the present may ignore the future and the consolation-lovers may fabricate their own appeasing stories in order to keep their brains free from stresses, The sea, however, would continue doing exactly what it is destined to do. IS THERE ANY SOLUTION ? In the contemporary age, when all the countries are looking for ways in which one can make money by exploiting and depriving the others, one should not be hopeful that there would be coordinated and organized endeavors on the part of the international organizations to save the victim countries. As for individual endeavor, what is possible for a resourceful and technically advanced country is not possible for a poor and less advanced country like Bangladesh. The country is not yet capable of constructing large bridges with its own finance, experts and technical persons. At present neither the bureaucratic nor the political government seem to have any headache for the problem that would take away the habitation and livelihood of about 30% of the country’s population. CAN THE PROBLEM BE SOLVED ? Nobody knows the answer to the question “Can the problem that poised great threat to the stability and existence of Bangladesh be solved ?” The country is neither resourceful nor technically advanced. Worst still, the country retains extremely corrupt elected and bureaucratic government and there prevails activities “a general feeling of frustration” among the citizens of the country. In the past Science has been found to have been able to solve problems that men once thought to have been impossible. However, because of our over-dependence on religion we have extremely limited achievements in science and technology. However, we can dream quite well. Recently Prof. Yunus and Grameen Bank have been awarded Nobel Prize for their “Dream” to eradicate poverty within twenty years. By this twenty years 66% of the area mentioned above will go under water. This would reduce the size of the country and shall thus reduce the load of responsibility of the men who dream of eradicating poverty. When we know that (i) the inevitable (i.e. rise of water level) is going to take place, (ii) the causes that create this problem is not going to disappear, (iii) the international organizations are not coming to any help, (iv) the national government is not going to take any step, why should not we dream a solution, specially when we find that ‘dreaming’ is so cordially accepted in the national and international arenas ? THE DREAM SOLUTION : The continental shelf of southern Bangladesh extends to the south and have a width of about 40 to 60 miles. Its depth varies from 5 to 60 feet excepting the areas where the mouths of the rivers and creeks empty themselves. The various river systems where Padma, Bramhaputra and Meghna are prominent bring in carry in billions of tons of silt every year from India. Only a little portion of this silt is deposited in the continental shelf extending up to continental break. The remaining silts follow the steep slope of the continental slope and spread over vast area at the bottom of the Indian Ocean. The satellite maps revealed that the area this silt cover is over 45,000 square miles. This information provoked some journalists to publish news item saying that a new Bangladesh with this area is going to rise up from the sea. In such a context one may dream that it might be possible to reclaim the 40-60 mile wide land of the continental shelf by erecting some sort of barrier near the continental break. The Netherlands reclaimed large area from the sea by creating dams and pumping out water. Bangladesh is in a much better advantageous position because, if the country can some how raise a silt-resisting (not water-resisting) structure at the continental break, the land would automatically be filled in by the silt carried in by the river systems. The Netherlands had to create water-resistant dikes and pump out water because the country did not have earth to fill the depression. In case of the continental shelf of Bangladesh any little obstacle raised at proper location would lead to automatic reclamation. Now the question is, how can such a resisting structure be created at the continental break ? Every year the railway department of USA burry huge number of old and redundant railway wagons in the deep sea. The government of Bangladesh may request the US government to bring and burry those at suitable locations in the continental shelf at the south of Bangladesh. Carrying those items through such a long distance is going to be expensive. As a solution Bangladesh may enter in a joint venture program with USA, where the huge benefit of the reclaimed land may be shared between the two countries. If such a program can see the ray of success, one may just ignore the case of submerging the southern part of the country. CONCLUSION : The way some people keep their brains free from tension by using ‘avoidance technique’, the poor people at times keep them satisfied by ‘dreaming’ at night and in daytime. However, in view of our recent experiences we must say that dreams have tremendous and inexhaustible potentialities. However, the exploration of this potentiality depends upon one’s marketing ability. I don’t have that mentality or ability. But still I want someone to take up this one or any other ‘dream-solution’ such that after another 30 years I can write “”Gentlemen, I am extremely happy to declare that I am writing this letter from a dry land”. Prof. Bijon B. Sarma. Head, Architecture Discipline, Khulna University, Khulna, Bangladesh.
I took 1 st credit loans when I was 20 and that aided my relatives very much. However, I require the commercial loan once again.