We Can't Afford Not to Reduce Carbon Emissions
The Hard Right, and many Neoliberal Centrists, say we can't stop using fossil fuels because of the economic harm that would create. But now we have evidence they couldn't be more wrong.
The researchers who published this study in the well-known scientific journal, Nature, did extensive research on the economic effects that would result worldwide if all nations adhered to the goal of cutting carbon emissions to limit global average temperature rise to no more than 2 degrees Celsius, as set forth in the Paris Climate Accord. They looked at economic data from 165 countries over a fifty year period. Their conclusion? Ninety percent (90%) of the world's population would likely see economic savings in excess of $20 Trillion, including people in the United States.
The failure to act promptly, however, will result in enormous damage to the world's economy, because of the extreme costs associated with continued global warming.
"As temperature's warm, [economic] output level falls," Marshall Burke, lead author of the study, said in call with reporters.
It's particularly important that scientists get some sense of how economies will respond in a warming world, in part, because the Earth's climate is already changing. [...]
It's unknown exactly how climate change will affect each and every country in the coming decades, said Burke, but he emphasized that
And it appears humanity has underestimated how large the magnitude of these costs -- which include pummeling storms, declines in crop yields, and the spread of disease -- truly is.
"As we further grasp the consequences of disrupting the fundamental environment on which modern civilization depends, projections of these costs continue to climb," Sarah Green, an environmental chemist at Michigan Technical University who was not involved in the study, said over email. [...]
The world's three largest economies -- the U.S., Japan, and China -- are all expected to benefit from meeting the 1.5 Celsius carbon target, although the researchers found the poorest nations in the world, which are generally also the hottest, serve to benefit the most.
Overall, this means avoiding the nearly unfathomable losses of income associated with a warming climate. For example, if the world were to warm to between 2.5 and 3 degrees Celsius by the end of the century, the researchers project that global economic output would fall between 15 and 25 percent, which amounts to tens of trillions of dollars.
We can continue to put off kicking our addiction to fossil fuels. However, we can no longer ignore the fact that by doing so we will not only increase human death and suffering, and and accelerate mass extinction, but also, we will crash our economy and dramatically lower living standards around the globe. So, for those to whom economic activity is the only metric that matters, our failure to act will crush the world's economy. Act now to invest in green energy, a known job creator) ...
The World Bank estimates that U.S. wind and solar creates about 13.5 jobs per million dollars of spending, and that building retrofits — energy efficiency — creates 16.7 jobs per million dollars of spending. This is more than three times the 5.2 jobs per $1 million for oil and natural gas, and more than two times the 6.9 jobs per $1 million for coal.
A more detailed job analysis is provided by AltEnergyStocks, which finds 5.3 jobs per $1 million for fossil fuel investments, and a bit over three times this — 16.7 jobs per $1 million for clean energy (energy efficiency and renewable energy). Importantly, this analysis also documents the substantially higher quality and higher pay nature of clean energy jobs relative to fossil fuel employment.
... or see an ever increasing drop off in economic productivity and extreme economic costs as climate change, driven by increased carbon emissions, wrecks havoc with the lives of even the wealthiest among us. It's likely true that the cost of converting our economy to complete reliance on green energy would be equivalent to a the cost of a "few percentage points" of our gross domestic product, admittedly an expensive proposition. However, "it takes money to make money." We already spend (i.e., waste) that much (i.e., trillions of dollars), if not more, on our current wars in the Middle East. Those wars are being fought, as George Bush, and many other Republicans confessed, solely to securing access to oil and gas. And what has that got us but the risk of even more catastrophic wars in the future, possibly even one involving the use of a nuclear weapons.
So, with climate change, doing the right thing is a no-brainer, even for bean counters and the investing class. Just tell them, "It's the economy, stupid."