Reminder: It’ll Cost More to Ignore Climate Change Than to Fix It

When conservatives aren’t busy outright denying the existence of climate change, they’ll often point to the economics of addressing the problem as a reason for inaction. It’s simply too expensive to try to save our one habitable planet, you see!

Never mind that no amount of money should be considered “too much” to protect the environment – there’s no such thing as an economy without human survival – it also turns out this line of reasoning is plain wrong.

The Universal Ecological Fund just released a stunning new report, “The Economic Case for Climate Action in the United States,” that details just how much we’re already spending on the effects of climate change. Rather than saying we can’t afford to fix climate change, it turns out that from a purely financial perspective we can’t afford not to.

Forget about all the impending devastation to come from global warming – the consequences going on right now are already racking up an enormous bill. At this point, the United States’ economy loses over $240 billion per year because of climate change.

But yes, the compounding effects of the increased temperature and pollution will make it even more costly. Within the next 10 years, that price tag is expected to hit at least $360 billion per year. For context, that’s nearly triple the amount of profit that the five biggest oil companies earn each year combined.

How is the U.S. blowing so much money? There are two big factors:

  • The cost of health care as more and more people get sick or die from air pollution
  • The cost to clean up after natural disasters strike with greater frequency and intensity thanks to higher temperatures

As National Geographic notes, this report’s numbers were crunched prior to the three big hurricanes that took place in recent weeks, which are expected to wind up costing the U.S. about $300 billion themselves.

The longer we fail to address climate change, the more money it will take from the U.S. economy. With each passing month, it’s getting cheaper to utilize renewable energy, and making the shift sooner will be faster.

To help with this shift, “The Economic Case for Climate Action in United States” also makes a pitch for the kind of actions that would stimulate the economy in addition to preserving our planet. That involves:

  • More than doubling solar and wind energy initiatives
  • Expanding carbon capture techniques
  • Relying more on nuclear power
  • Developing alternative energy energies

Remember – although shifting our energy priorities will put some people out of work, the number of jobs that these new industries will create will keep the overall economy thriving.

The people who argue that climate change can’t be addressed without excessive spending are profiting from fossil fuels either directly or indirectly. We have an obligation to keep our global temperature in check, and the figures show that supposed economic concerns are not a good reason to ignore this responsibility.

Photo credit: Thinkstock

70 comments

Lorraine Andersen

Thanks for sharing, and Dot is right. These people think they can get all the can and the next generation can deal with the problems caused by the previous ones greed.

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Peggy B
Peggy B14 days ago

Interesting comments.

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Rhoberta E
Rhoberta E14 days ago

brian f
BOT from a troll farm !!

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Dot A
Dot A14 days ago

About 30 yrs. ago or more now, as a waitress in a luncheon club that often served the big business clientele, - there is one example of the type of mind-set that let climate change dig deeply into the fiber of all the world's erosion. This man smoked a big stogie cigar, had a billionaires big belly, spoke with arrogance and bragged with great pride of his successes. He had chosen a reclusive area so he could speak as the bodacious lout he deemed rich and worthy of admiration. "Don't worry," he bellowed to his table of 7, "by the time we've wiped out the Amazon, and the air is destroyed," he smiled with a glimmer of con-artistry, "We aren't going to be around anyway!" and ended with the laughter of a wicked greedy unconscionable $$$pig, - which is now the exponential problem still growing from other $$$pigs.

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Angela K
Angela K15 days ago

Thanks for sharing

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Brian F
Brian F16 days ago

Regus corporations own both corrupt parties and our media. You and David F both support both corrupt parties that corporations own, and that are destroying this country. You caused this fraud Trump to win by supporting the corrupt Democratic party that cheated Bernie Sanders out of his primary, lied about the Nevada convention, and anointed your crook and liar Hillary, who most people hate. Hillary who supported natural gas fracking, was on the Walmart board and supported the Iraq war is so corrupt, Republicans voted for her, because they would make more money if she was elected. The fact that you would defend a crook and liar like Hillary, who is so completely corrupt, and caused this fraud Trump to win, proves you are a sellout and a moron. Bernie Sanders long ago disavowed sellouts like you and David F who are part of our corrupt two party duopoly. Hillary is a psychopath, and only an idiot like you would defend an establishment Wall Street crook like her. Bernie Sanders is the most popular politician in America. It's time for you to support him, or join David F, and support our corrupt two party duopoly.

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Regus Slantei
Regus Slantei16 days ago

Brian -- Go f**k yourself. My comment centered on what/who a "conservative" is. It did not concern a Tourette's patient's idiotic view of the world. Your post to me was off-topic and unresponsive.

If you'd like, I could similarly comment on what a true progressive is. And contrast that with the insipid malignancy and hypocrisy that you represent. As Bernie well knows, you and your ilk are every bit a FALSE example of what a progressive is, just as the likes of David F. is a FALSE example of what a conservative is.

You BOTH have that falseness in common, just as you both commonly share the blame for the Bronze-Hued Moron (Tillerson's word) being in the oval office.

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Regus Slantei
Regus Slantei16 days ago

Speaking of "weak and insipidly sophomoric posts":

Dan B. claims: "By all accounts, if carbon dioxide emissions were to cease today, atmospheric levels would begin to fall immediately".

This is a LIE. A made-up "fact". Even minor, measurable decreases in the level of CO2 in the atmosphere would take DECADES in the scenario Dan posits. And let's not forget this about Dan's misleading assumption: **NO ONE** in control of their mental faculties is proposing or predicting that CO2 emission will abruptly cease.

As usual, Dan's pontifications are absurdly UNINFORMED and geared merely so that he can make apologetics for the status quo use fossil fuels. As many of you have already detected, and commented on here on Care2, he is worse than the know-nothing he is; he is a pro-active and unabashed liar for the rightwing causes he supports.

With fellow citizens like Dan in our midst in some significant numbers, our future is EVERY BIT as bleak as some proclaim.

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Regus Slantei
Regus Slantei16 days ago

Speaking of "weak and insipidly sophomoric posts":

Dan B. claims: "By all accounts, if carbon dioxide emissions were to cease today, atmospheric levels would begin to fall immediately".

This is a LIE. A made-up "fact". Even minor, measurable decreases in the level of CO2 in the atmosphere would take DECADES in the scenario Dan posits. And let's not forget this about Dan's misleading assumption: **NO ONE** in control of their mental faculties is proposing or predicting that CO2 emission will abruptly cease.

As usual, Dan's pontifications are absurdly UNINFORMED and geared merely so that he can make apologetics for the status quo use fossil fuels. As many of you have already detected, and commented on here on Care2, he is worse than the know-nothing he is; he is a pro-active and unabashed liar for the rightwing causes he supports.

With fellow citizens like Dan in our midst in some significant numbers, our future is EVERY BIT as bleak as some proclaim.

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Dan Blossfeld
Dan Blossfeld18 days ago

Mark D.,
Not quite. By all accounts, if carbon dioxide emissions were to cease today, atmospheric levels would begin to fall immediately. Planet Earth has been taking up 55% of the excess CO2 pumped into the atmosphere. Without the excess being added, she will begin to remove that which has been added over the past century, reaching a new equilibrium in a relatively short time (no one is quite sure how long, but most estimates are much less than a hundred years). Our future is not as bleak as soon proclaim.

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