Count the true costs

Scary to ponder, and yet another blow to what is perhaps the most common denier argument against full-scale (or much of any) transition to renewables and other ecological reversals and transitions we must correct: which is, “it will cost too much” and “wreck the economy” and “hurt the poor”. Consider the costs if we stick close to the status quo:

“in a country that’s already relatively warm, every degree Celsius of warming reduces [economic] growth, on average, by about one percentage point (an enormous number, considering we count growth in the low single digits as “strong”). This is the sterling work in the field. Compared to the trajectory of economic growth with no climate change, their average projection is for a 23 percent loss in per capita earning globally by the end of this century. Tracing the shape of the probability curve is even scarier. There is a 51 percent chance, this research suggests, that climate change will reduce global output by more than 20 percent by 2100, compared with a world without warming, and a 12 percent chance that it lowers per capita GDP by 50 percent or more by then, unless emissions decline. By comparison, the Great Depression dropped global GDP by about 15 percent, it is estimated—the numbers weren’t so good back then. The more recent Great Recession lowered it by about 2 percent, in a onetime shock; Hsiang and his colleagues estimate a one-in-eight chance of an ongoing and irreversible effect by 2100 that is twenty-five times worse. In 2018, a team led by Thomas Stoerk suggested that these estimates could be dramatic underestimates. The scale of that economic devastation is hard to comprehend.”

Wallace-Wells, David. The Uninhabitable Earth (pp. 117-118). Crown/Archetype. Kindle Edition.


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