Public Opinion Has Moved on Climate Change. Will Obama Follow—or Fiddle?

There’s a great article at Mother Jones. Read the whole piece here, or just the excerpts:

It’s not jobs vs. climate. It’s about a disaster economy vs. an adaptive one. Jobs vs. climate action is a false and outdated dichotomy propagated by those with a vested interest in the status quo. For the economy as a whole, the number crunchers have shown that tackling carbon emissions (via, take your pick, a carbon tax, cap and trade, or flat-out regulation) might cost the economy about 1 percent of GDP by 2050. Not doing so, however, will cost anywhere from 5 to 20 percent—20!—of GDP. (By way of comparison, after the 2008 crash, GDP declined 2.4 percent. 20 percent would be a catastrophe.)

Sandy’s damage stands at $50 billion, minimum. Last summer’s wildfires cost Colorado at least half a billion; the drought’s price tag could be as high as $150 billion. [Yes, yes: No storm or fire is attributable entirely to climate change, but scientists have no doubt it’s making them worse and more frequent.] Meanwhile, a UN-sponsored study estimates that corn, wheat, and rice yields will drop by as much as one-fifth by 2050 if nothing is done. The planet of 2100, in World Bank president Jim Yong Kim’s words, will be “so dramatically different from today’s world that it is hard to describe it accurately.”

Slowing the oceans’ rise would not as hard as it’s been made out to be—certainly not compared to nearly eradicating slavery worldwide, to making once-routine infant and maternal mortality a rare tragedy in all but the poorest countries, to going from typewriters to iPads in a generation. Just make it expensive to needlessly pump carbon into the atmosphere, and capitalism will do much of the rest.

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