The cost of climate change
One of the arguments against decarbonizing the economy is that it would be too costly. It would cause economic loss and upheaval. There are other arguments against using certain decarbonization technologies like nuclear for energy generation, again based on cost.
However, our new planet requires new economics. At some point, and we might be getting close, the cost of dealing with disasters will outpace any economic argument. In terms of disaster mitigation, a dollar invested saves $6. The economics of adaptation too must be addressed. At this point, I believe anything we do to mitigate and adapt is cheaper than coping with escalating crises.
My concern is that we are now into a period of chronic disasters which are costly. Ultimately dealing with disaster after disaster means the work we need to do with mitigation and adaptation cannot get done. It also means hard decisions about building back after disasters. We are not yet, in Canada, having an honest discussion about that. We are not yet looking ahead far enough or clearly enough. At some point, the money runs out and municipalities will be stuck and unable to get funding for expensive adaptive infrastructure investments. Home owners will be unable to get help, either through insurance or the government, to rebuild their lives. We have had enough climate driven disasters to begin to count the costs. It’s time to figure out what we truly can afford.