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One common complaint from the climate change "skeptic" crowd is that addressing carbon pollution will hurt our economy. Elected representatives of the fossil fuels industries have even gone so far as to label any regulation of carbon emissions as economic terrorism. Here is Rep. Mike Kelly, humping his new "Coal Country Protection Act" (Mitch McConnell is introducing the Senate version) before the big brains at the Heritage Foundation.

“You talk about terrorism, you can do it in a lot of different ways,” he said. “But you terrorize the people who supply everything this country needs to be great — and you keep them on the sidelines — my goodness, what have we become?”

Pressed on the fiery language, Kelly appeared to walk back the remarks, saying that the regulatory action has the effect of smothering economic activity.

What do you call the virus that robs you of integrity and your very soul? Money, but I digress.

The White House Council of Economic Advisers just put out an analysis of the economic costs of delaying action on carbon pollution.

This report examines the cost of delaying policy actions to stem climate change, and reaches two main conclusions. First, delaying action is costly. If a policy delay leads to higher ultimate CO2 concentrations, then that delay produces persistent additional economic damages caused by higher temperatures, more acidic oceans, and other consequences of higher CO2 concentrations. Moreover, if delay means that the policy, when implemented, must be more stringent to meet a given target, then it will be more costly.  

Second, uncertainty about the most severe, irreversible consequences of climate change adds urgency to implementing climate policies now that reduce GHG emissions. In fact, climate policy can be seen as climate insurance taken out against the most damaging potential consequences of climate change—consequences so severe that these events are sometimes referred to as climate catastrophes. The possibility of climate catastrophes leads to taking prudent steps now to sharply reduce the chances that they occur.

Here is the take-home message:
If delayed action causes the mean global temperature increase to stabilize at 3° Celsius above preindustrial levels, instead of 2°, that delay will induce annual additional damages of 0.9 percent of global output. To put this percentage in perspective, 0.9 percent of estimated 2014 U.S. GDP is approximately $150 billion. The next degree increase, from 3° to 4°, would incur greater additional annual costs of 1.2 percent of global output. These costs are not one-time: they are incurred year after year because of the permanent damage caused by additional climate change resulting from the delay.
 photo climate_fig_02_zpsda0ecbe9.jpg

Climate change means economic austerity for those that can least afford it. So let's stop propping up profits for outdated energy sources that require digging up and burning carbon.  

Beyond the uncanny juxtaposition the coal industry's sock puppets and the president's economic analysts' report, there is an inconvenient truth. As intense storms have become more destructive of persons and property with rising temperatures in recent years, so has financial risk from lost productivity and insurance costs.

The thing that frustrates me most about the upcoming midterm elections is that the climate craniorectal inversion syndrome crowd could actually control the House and Senate after November. Many are campaigning on their loyalty to fossil fuels. Meanwhile, ALEC is preparing to attack clean energy subsidies and government targets for market share.

On the other side of the political spectrum, the Democrats have settled on economic fairness as their central message, most avoiding climate change as the proverbial third rail. I know politics is sausage-making and all the other excuses for ethical bankruptcy. However, true leadership requires the ability to help fossil fuels extraction-dependent local communities imagine life beyond harvesting carbon. Replace those coal jobs with solar panel research, development, and production companies. Sing the praises of being free from slavery to the fossil energy grid.

You also cannot talk about economic fairness when climate-fueled disasters always have the greatest impact on those with the least. Droughts drive up food, water, and energy costs. Just ask those struggling to keep up with expenses in the southwestern United States. Poor communities take much longer to recover from natural disasters. Walk the streets of the 9th ward in New Orleans if you have any doubt.

If Democrats shy away from the climate issue during this election, the discussion of carbon pollution will be dominated by the flat-earth Republicans. Guess which side will move the Overton Window under these circumstances. Too many Democrats are "climate ducks" instead of climate hawks.

The majority of Democrats are what we call climate ducks - they vote the right way against bad Republican bills, but otherwise duck the issue of climate change.
Future generations cannot afford an energy policy in the United States run by political hacks and quacks.
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Comment Preferences

  •  So a 4 degree world (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    James Wells

    will cost the U.S a third of a trillion a year in economic damage. How much does avoidance cost? Are these costs damaging or beneficial to the economy?

    Will there even be an economy in the current sense in some of the worst case, collapse of civilization scenarios? How much is it worth giving up now, to ensure that our civilization continues?

    Then there is the possibility of human extinction from ocean acidification or other climate catastrophe scenarios. What percentage of GDP would that be valued at? How much would it be worth spending to avoid it?

    One thing is clear - if even raising these issues could cost the next election, politicians think THAT cost is too high.

    Cowards. They can get away with it as long as they can count on us voting against the Republican candidates, instead of having to earn our votes. We need to primary the lot of them if they aren't willing to address the critical issue of our times, if not of all time.

    Could we please have some candidates that are willing to tackle the real issues?

    •  I suggest reading the report (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ypochris, tarkangi

      It answers many of those questions.

      I cannot imagine the cost of inaction on the quality of life for future generations. Being an old fart, I will be spared most of the negative external costs of propping up fossil fuels for a few more decades.

      Be radical in your compassion.

      by DWG on Wed Jul 30, 2014 at 07:52:20 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I suspect the cost of mitigation is ZERO. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    engine17, DWG, hubcap

    We have millions of unemployed people. Many of them are receiving various benefits and none of them are paying income tax.

    If we put them to work building (let's say) windmills and solar plants, there probably wouldn't be much of an economic cost. It's not like we are shifting labor from a "productive" sector.

    Of course, conservatives will have economic projections that claim the opposite.  We should be certain to remind them that their doom-and-gloom scenarios are based on...wait for it...computer models of the economy.

    And, as any global warming denier will tell you, computer models can never be trusted, lol.

    •  We can't drill our way to prosperity (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DWG, Calamity Jean, hubcap

      But we can build our way out.

      The infrastructure of this century's economy includes a massive renewable energy collection system. Building it will provide jobs for a couple of generations of us.

      •  Exactly (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Calamity Jean, hubcap

        It only requires a little innovation. No innovation will come from the oil, gas, and coal industries. Powering the 21st century with 20th century energy sources is stupid, especially since the cost of doing so is all too apparent.

        Be radical in your compassion.

        by DWG on Wed Jul 30, 2014 at 09:32:16 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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