This post is by Sheryl Canter, an Online Writer and Editorial Manager at Environmental Defense.
We frequently hear people worrying about the expense of tackling the global warming problem (an expense that is generally overrated). But what we don't hear much about is the cost of inaction. How much of a burden will be placed on our economy if we do nothing?
This is the topic of a study just released by the University of Maryland (and partially funded by Environmental Defense) titled "The US Economic Impacts of Climate Change and the Costs of Inaction". The upshot? Taking no action at all is our most expensive policy option.
Last year's Stern report also analyzed the cost of inaction, but at a global level. According to the Washington Post, Terry L. Anderson, Executive Director of the Property and Environment Research Center found this study more believable because of its targeted analyses of individual sectors in different geographical regions. "I have more faith in microstudies than the more sweeping ones."
The UMD report cites five key lessons:
- Economic impacts of climate change will occur throughout the country.
- Economic impacts will be unevenly distributed across regions and within the economy and society.
- Negative climate impacts will outweigh benefits for most sectors that provide essential goods and services to society.
- Climate change impacts will place immense strains on public sector budgets.
- Secondary effects of climate impacts can include higher prices, reduced income, and job losses.
The full report gives detailed support for each of these lessons, and concludes: "A national policy for immediate action to mitigate emissions coupled with efforts to adapt to unavoidable impacts will significantly reduce the overall costs of continued climate change."