News from the Columbia Climate School

Economist says climate change countermeasures make financial sense

In a New York Times article Feb. 20, Robert H. Frank, an economist at the Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University, argues that acting to stop climate change makes economic sense.

He suggests that if people understood the risk, they would be willing to pay the relatively modest cost to avert life-threatening catastrophe. Uncertainty about how much temperatures might rise and how fast shouldn’t mean a wait-and-see attitude.

He says, “Most people would pay a substantial share of their wealth — much more, certainly, than the modest cost of a carbon tax — to avoid having someone pull the trigger on a gun pointed at their head with one bullet and nine empty chambers. Yet that’s the kind of risk that some people think we should take.”

People working directly with climate change issues – activists, scientists, and others – are already living with this sense of urgency.  Every sober academic voice, such as that of a distinguished economist, making the case in a way people can accept, takes us closer to the consensus we need to really change.

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Science for the Planet: In these short video explainers, discover how scientists and scholars across the Columbia Climate School are working to understand the effects of climate change and help solve the crisis.
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