Ready to pay for the costs of climate change? – SCREENSHOT Media

Ready to pay for the costs of climate change?

By Shira Jeczmien

Published Nov 29, 2018 at 09:30 AM

Reading time: 2 minutes

There is something I don’t quite understand about the current U.S. administration, and that is both its love of keeping money at the top and at the same time die hard denial of climate change. Because it doesn’t take more than a moment of thought to connect the dots between a shifting, unpredictable and destructive climate and economic loss. So the question is, is the denial of the energy sector’s grave consequence on our planet in order to keep hands in honey pots worth the long term costs?

A graph in the latest U.S. National Climate Assessment report released by a body of several federal agencies indicates that by 2090 (which granted is a little into the future but not a distant enough future that we shouldn’t be worried), economic damages from climate change will cost the U.S. economy alone $700 billion. You might be imagining hurricanes, tsunamis, wildfires and coastal habitation under water, but the report shows that the heaviest costs from climate change will be in areas much less expected.

The largest portion of the country’s projected spending will be on lost labour costs. As outlined in the report, “almost two billion labor hours are projected to be lost annually by 2090 from the impacts of temperature extremes, costing an estimated $160 billion in lost wages”. The second biggest cost is set to be a result of ‘extreme temperature mortality’. When temperatures rise to levels higher than 35 to 40 degrees Celsius, the risk of fatal heat exhaustion and heat strokes rises exponentially, affecting children and the elderly in particular. In other words, premature deaths as a result of sweltering heat are set to cost $141 billion per year in medical aid in just 50 years from now.

What’s truly interesting about the report is how it is calculated. When it comes to projected costs of future lives lost, the term used by government agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and others like it is “value of a statistic life”. This is a future life, something that is both difficult to fathom and even harder to feel compassion for. And so, as Brian O’Neill, director of research at the University of Denver’s Pardee Center for International Futures, told the MIT Technology Review, “It’s a measure of how much we’re willing to spend to reduce the risk of a death.” In that case, this is less about the destruction of our planet and more about facing the decision today of how much a statistical future life is worth to us.

The thing is, investing in renewable energy today and divesting from the reliance on coal and oil is actually a lucrative step forward. In fact, the clean energy industry was already estimated to be worth $200 billion in the U.S. alone in 2016, with that figure only projected to spike as technology advances and as global powerhouses such as India are heavily investing in cleaning up their energy production. Following its heavy divestment from fossil fuels over the past few years, India is now expected to overtake China by 2020 (who has thus far been leading investment in renewable energy).

Evidently, the paradox of climate change keeps growing. If a realistic projection of a dying world was not enough to make the U.S. government take an actual change of directions in the ways it produces its energy, then we should at least hope that the economic loss of these monumental figures could influence short-sighted politicians to take the right choice. If anything, at least in the interest of their own pockets.

Keep On Reading

By Jennifer Raymont

15 Instagram-approved jewellery bits to perfect your summer collection

By Charlie Sawyer

From Death Becomes Her to Paris Is Burning, here are 5 films considered queer cult classics

By Kirsten Chen

2023 WNBA All-Star Weekend: How the Jordan Brand’s youngest athletes are reaching future basketball fans

By Louis Shankar

Celebrities abandon ship following Elon Musk’s blue tick mess. Is your favourite star next?

By Amy Rose Everett

Thinking about: The creative message behind Swarm’s portrayal of the Black female villain

By Louis Shankar

Chess becomes latest sport to ban transgender women from competing in women’s events

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Shocking N word slur found on UK government website, here’s where

By Simon Bland

How the Super Mario Bros. movie went from box office bomb to unlikely LGBTQIA+ hit

By Phoebe Snedker

TikTok is triggering a rise in spiritual psychosis among gen Z

By Charlie Sawyer

Gen Zers from across the UK reveal the profound impact the cost of living crisis has had on their lives

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Daredevil skyscraper climber Remi Lucidi dies in 712 ft plunge in Hong Kong

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

One Tree Hill star Bethany Joy Lenz speaks out about her 10 years in a cult

By Charlie Sawyer

Harry Styles rivals Goop founder Gwyneth Paltrow with new line of sex-themed perfumes

By Mason Berlinka

Watch this viral video of a tourist defacing Rome’s historic Colosseum

By Charlie Sawyer

TikTok famous comedian Uncle Roger banned from Chinese social media after defamatory comments

By Jennifer Raymont

Subway shirt TikTok trend highlights reality of women facing unwanted attention on public transport

By Charlie Sawyer

Netflix’s depiction of Queen Cleopatra as Black enrages Egyptian scholars and racists alike

By Charlie Sawyer

The HB smart ring is going to revolutionise the way couples celebrate their big day

By Charlie Sawyer

How did we go from rainbow washing galore to Pride Month 2023’s complete lack of it?

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Will gen Z be the generation to finally ditch sex and relationships labels?