Friday, May 29, 2009

Climate Bailout

A new study by the Geneva-based Global Humanitarian Forum asserts that 1) effects of climate change kill 315,000 people annually, and that figure is expected to rise to 500,000 by 2030; and 2) climate change costs $125 billion annually, expected to increase to $340 billion by 2030. Climate change-related deaths are reportedly caused by starvation, disease, and weather disasters. Developing countries experience more than 90% of the social and economic burdens of climate change, yet the 50 poorest countries in the world emit fewer than 1% of global greenhouse gases.

According to a study published last year by three authors including IPCC economist Gary Yohe (of my alma mater), an investment of $800 billion—in both climate change mitigation and adaptation—would address some of the most dire consequences of climate change, while yielding benefits of $2.1 trillion.

The United States isn't especially rushed to solve the crisis because we aren't feeling many of the worst effects yet (or at least aren't admitting that they're related to climate change), but other nations don't have as much time to deliberate, and in fact, some are already doomed.

So as long as the U.S. is offering $800 billion stimulus plans to bail out our economy, why not offer an internationally-funded $800 billion plan to bail out the world? As long as we're losing $125 billion a year to climate change-related costs, the return on investment would only be 6.4 years, and by most companies' standards, that ain't bad.

Images: Kiribati submerging (

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