State of the Planet

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.

Read the article

Banner featuring a collage of extreme heat images.

Recent record-breaking heat waves have affected communities across the world. The Extreme Heat Workshop will bring together researchers and practitioners to advance the state of knowledge, identify community needs, and develop a framework for evaluating risks with a focus on climate justice. Register by June 15

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