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New Report Connects Dots Between Political Inaction & Growing Cost Of Climate Change

2013/01/04
Cartoon: Union of Concerned Scientists

Cartoon: Union of Concerned Scientists

This is a reposting from The Earth Story’s Facebook page:

“The cost of living is going up and the chance of living is going down. “ –Flip Wilson

A new publication issued by the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in the journal “Nature” has reported that the chances of keeping temperatures below a 2 degree rise is now largely in the hands of policy makers.

The challenge of a changing climate can now only be fought with the backing of political agenda – and as most people will agree, this seems bleak.

Of all the uncertainties with regard the effects of climate change, including geophysical and social uncertainties; political uncertainty ranked as the number 1 factor in determining the fate of our species and our planet.

What went wrong? Maybe we have been advertising climate change in an ineffective manner, considering how politically charged the world is?

The burdens of climate change are often communicated in relation to extreme weather events, melting ice caps, lives lost, loss of biodiversity, endangered species etc., but it would appear that to some this doesn’t seem to ring a bell; probably as the bell doesn’t chime as “cha ching cha ching”.

So what happens if we try to communicate climate change in relation to cost?

In 2012, in the United States alone, there were 11 natural disasters that cost over $1 billion – and this does not yet include the almost country wide drought or hurricane sandy, and let’s not forget the multiple other disasters which did not make the 1 billion benchmark. It is predicted that events, like the ones that swept the entire globe in 2012, will increase in frequency and in destructive force if we do not keep temperatures below the 2 degree rise on pre-industrial temperatures.

If we do not change our ways by 2020, the research group have found that the probability of keeping the temperature within the assigned two degree window drops below 50% (best case) or 20% (worst case) – no matter how much money is spent in the effort.

It is predicted that money will not matter; it’s almost bittersweet.

2012 was an eye opening year in terms of our natural environment. From here on out, let’s try change our ways; not our climate. The clock is ticking.

More links:

Political Action The Biggest Swing Factor in Meeting Climate Targets

Probabilistic cost estimates for climate change mitigation (access to full article requires subscription)

5 Comments leave one →
  1. 2013/01/05 9:25 am

    Framing by cost falls on deaf ears too, while we continue to measure the economy in nonsensical terms of ‘GDP’, since all activity (including disaster recovery costs) boosts that number. Possible solution: highlight the global footprint?

    • 2013/01/07 9:55 am

      Thanks P – although it does boggle the mind that a government, like one we are currently “blessed” with in Canada, that plays the economy card over and over can’t see the writing on the wall re: environmental disasters being catastrophically expensive? Thanks for the ink.

    • 2013/01/13 3:16 am

      I was going to make a similar statement (only not in such eloquent words!). I am reminded of the “Stern Review” which attempted to put the problem in dollar signs and seemed to be ignored by the world at large.

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