"Taking the steps necessary to address global warming will slow down our economic growth." We've all heard a version of that one, right? As it turns out, not only will addressing climate change produce a minimal drag on the economy, but doing nothing could be much more expensive. The BBC (via the Daily Grist) reports that a newly-released study by British economist Sir Nicholas Stern shows that failing to act against the climate crisis "...could shrink the global economy by 20%." Taking action will cost... are you ready... 1%. According to Stern, the economic drain of global warming would come from:
- Floods from rising sea levels could displace up to 100 million people
- Melting glaciers could cause water shortages for 1 in 6 of the world's population
- Wildlife will be harmed; at worst up to 40% of species could become extinct
- Droughts may create tens or even hundreds of millions of "climate refugees"
The climate change denial industry will have a tough time with this one -- Stern's a former chief economist of the World Bank, hardly a bunch of pinko commies. I'm sure they'll shift more towards criticizing the science, but that's falling more and more on deaf ears. The thing I really don't get about the deniers: this is a tremendous opportunity, not only for preventing lots of death and destruction, but for making a lot of money. The green sector is booming -- I'm no economist, but I'm also not aware of any other business category growing by double digits. I really don't see what's not to like if you're a conservative -- there's business to be done, folks. Furthermore, it's business in the very best spirit of capitalism -- moving quickly and creatively to serve the community while making a profit. Are these folks really not imaginative enough to recognize that lots of money can be made without drilling for oil, digging for coal or manufacturing oversized gas-guzzlers? I have a real problem understanding how people who've made it to the top of such industries can't see the possibilities here...
If you'd like to see a more thorough overview of yesterday's presentation of the report, it's available from the British Treasury Department (thanks, Tod!). If you want to read the report, it's available here.
Categories: climatechange, globalwarming, stern, report, economics, tonyblair, gordonbrown, london, uk