Climate change, within the last couple of decades, has become more certain to cost us perhaps billions or trillions of dollars, yet there are delays in addressing the problem to the proper degree.
As with so many other things, take heart health, for example, addressing the problem ahead of time may incur costs, but nothing like the costs associated with getting a heart transplant. Imagine, if you come from a family prone to heart problems, regular heart checkups, a proper diet and exercise regimen, may cost a few hundred dollars per year. On the other hand, you could just wait, a heart transplant, if one is even available, costing around one million dollars. Then, of course, you hope that you will survive the procedure. Addressing climate change is a similar problem, as in, how much will you pay, when will you pay, and will we survive the procedure?
For example, in an effort to address climate change, brought on by ever-increasing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, the US EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) as well as regulators in other parts of the world, has put increasingly-strict emissions regulations on automobiles, manufacturing, industry, and power production facilities. Meeting regulations, however, is no easy task, costing perhaps billions of dollars in research and development, not to mention the possible economic impact of eliminating certain fossil fuels from our diet. On the one hand, it should come as no surprise that eliminating coal power plant emissions would ruin certain local economies, such as coal power plant operators and coal mining operations in Pennsylvania. On the other hand, it takes no stretch of the imagination to realize that those same coal miners and plant operators could get new jobs running renewable energy plants.
Is the effort worthwhile? According to Jason Furman, chairman of Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, the upfront costs of developing reduced- or zero-emissions infrastructure is absolutely worthwhile. Certain studies, for example, suggest that future disaster recovery would exceed $500 billion annually, maintaining the status quo until 2050. That number is expected to rise exponentially every year afterward. On the other hand, if we spent the money now, developing renewable energy technologies, the effects of climate change can be curbed slightly. Mr. Furman suggests that, if we act now, we could save some 40% over future climate-change-fueled damages, saying, “We know way more than enough to justify acting today.”
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