U.S. Representative Buddy Carter recently told The Brunswick News that reining in climate change would harm the economy.
From a risk-management perspective, it is clearly irresponsible to worry about the cost of making the changes needed to prevent horrendous suffering and damage, including the inundation of coastal cities, more intense hurricanes, wildfires, deadly heat waves, droughts, famine, epidemics, resource wars, and other profound threats to civilization.
Such a calamitous future involving the displacement and tragic deaths of millions of people is the most likely outcome should we as a society opt to avoid incurring costs today. Although existing concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere already ensure that much damage will be unavoidable, there’s still a small window of opportunity to avoid a worst case scenario.
If a short-sighted focus on today’s economy is all that is standing in the way of Rep. Carter’s willingness to support policies that would cut greenhouse gas emissions rapidly enough to avert catastrophe, then we are in luck.
It turns out that there are immediate and verifiable economic benefits to making a complete transition away from fossil fuels to already proven and profitable zero-emission power sources. According to researchers at the London School of Economics, in high income countries like the U.S., improvements in health achieved by reducing air pollution would have an economic benefit worth $100 for every ton of emissions avoided. Experts also point to investments in infrastructure and clean energy projects that would stimulate the economy and create millions of jobs.
Center for a Sustainable Coast