Monday, August 3, 2009

The Core Narrative of Climate Change – 8

Why might the hypothetical I raised last week turn out to be real? That is, that I am in fact better off @ $2000 relative to other more prevalent “stressors” in my environment (level of nutrition, health care I can afford, education I can afford etc) AND that improvement is greater than the net negative climate effect. It depends. The effects of climate change depend very much on where you live as well as how you live. Obviously, if you live in low-lying coastal regions, rising sea levels may affect you directly. Otherwise the effects will be indirect. Climate’s effects will be primarily experienced by way of existing stressors that are exacerbated. Can we get a handle on how to quantify this? In doing so, we can pose this as a national rather than individual issue. Here is what we need to answer:
How much GNP does a country sacrifice for avoiding climate change?
But in answering that we need to know how much does climate change costs in terms of welfare?

1 comment:

Gene said...

Indeed one can't really evaluate the costs or benefits of the new environment unless it is reasonably modeled in near entirety. Just as you have pointed out regarding the risk of a geo-engineering measures, how much certainty is possible? How comfortable are "WE" at the understanding of risk? I would argue, especially from recent experience with attempts at financial risk-adjustment, that few can evaluate the implications of risk - certainly not the public.

However, isn't there a structural skew to the reality of collective decision making which is that port communities control an very much higher portion of wealth (GNP) than non-port areas? Therefore their interests will far out weigh the evaluations of other areas. This is, of course, due not only to population concentrations but to trade as a fundamental source of wealth and power. Even the second source, resource extraction, will be skewed toward coastal oil production.