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11/06/2015

Comments

Sarah Rachal

The 4 degrees Celsius climate change report provides a strong argument for policies that would internalize negative externalities associated with climate change and environmental degradation. Based on estimates, floods, fires, and rising sea levels will likely destroy large amounts of physical capital, especially in the least developed countries. Agricultural productivity will also be negatively affected, slowing economic growth and leading to malnutrition in poor countries. The impacts of climate change on health through malnutrition and increased disease will negatively affect human capital and productivity, further impacting the economy. Increased heatwaves, floods, and other climate-related natural disasters will increase risk and uncertainty for firms, causing a reduction in investments in countries near the equator. With all of these impacts in mind, governments clearly need to take further action to curb greenhouse gas emissions. Although policymakers tend to focus on short-term economic effects of policies, a lack of action will likely lead to major economic failures in the future. Internalizing the negative externalities of fossil fuels through regulations would be an effective way to incorporate the full costs of greenhouse gas emissions into firms’ decision-making processes. Since a 4 degree Celsius temperature increase by 2100 is viable given current emissions trends, and there may be a CO2 threshold past which massive temperature increases are inevitable, governments should seriously consider prioritizing the environment, even at the expense of current economic growth.

Genny Francis

As some other people have mentioned in their posts, one of the biggest issues currently is that poor countries that are impacted most by climate change have no way to mitigate it, while wealthier countries, such as the U.S. could work together to institute policies to mitigate it, however these countries also have more resources to adapt to climate change more easily. Because climate change does not impact all regions equally, the wealthier countries that have the most power to mitigate climate change do not have the same incentives to enact policies that would mitigate it ( for example by cutting back on emissions), because they do not bear most of the cost of climate change. Another issue is that, at least in the U.S., the effects of climate change are not well understood by the public, and it has become a very politicized issue where facts are distorted by politicians for their own gain.

Alex Fox

Discussion on global climate change and its impacts is always a frustrating topic to broach. This report is one of many, on varying scales of alarm, that paint a very bleak future in the face of inaction. It feels like the course of action is so clear. But, I can't pretend like I know what what the far-reaching implications of an initiative towards combatting global climate change actually are. However, it seems that many world economies have this narrow mindset in which they're content with economic growth in the short term, while any potential future effects of climate change cause tunnel vision. In the end, everyone has their best interest at heart and that will always be a barrier to action. I'm sure many people, many corporations, stand something to lose as the result of comprehensive policy combatting climate change. But so, so many more people face a troublesome future. Economies that rely heavily on traditional agrarian practices could collapse before they even have a chance to think about an economic policy that will improve productivity or help it transition. No economy is really buffered from the effects of a world that is 4 degrees Celsius warmer. I wish that were enough to get people to actually do something about it. But, hard to get things done when there are still people who refute overwhelming scientific proof.

Jonathan Jetmundsen

Going in to this article, I come from a background where most people I was surrounded with growing up and are heavily conservative. Most adults I know scoff at the idea of global warming, and look down upon it as almost a pseudo science. Even when Americans consider the possibility of global warming, most probably only consider it an issue if temperatures were to rise drastically. This article is shocking in that just a 4 degree increase would have completely transformational impacts on the world. This report almost makes me feel like it is something that will be read in 100 years after it is too late and people will wonder why nothing was done. The problem, which we discussed in class, is that the pollution and other human byproducts causing warming are negative externalities and thus makes it unappealing for anyone to cover the cost of them. As the report noted, the most serious changes will occure in the tropics where many of the developing countries we study are located. The countries are less industrialized and are contributing a lot less to the problem than major countries, so it will be interesting to see how much developed countries are willing to prevent a problem that will be most severe in poorer nations.

Luke Myer

The issue of global climate change is hotly contested between journalists and politicians, likely because Al Gore was the person who first prominently brought the issue to the American public. As I learned in Professor Greer’s class, however, about 99% of scientists believe that human activities have led to global climate change. This article points out the vast array of problems that global warming can have, and is already having, on the world. From the most obvious effects like the melting of the polar ice caps and sea level rise to increased drought and aridity, this article describes the challenges we face moving forward. These problems disproportionately affect the poor because a large percentage of the world’s poor live in tropical and subtropical areas, which are likely to incur more drastic negative effects from global warming. The rising sea levels put island countries at serious risk and increased drought truly stress poor farmers’ ability to consistently grow successful crops. From tourism to agriculture, the economic impacts of these changes would be incredibly disastrous to the world’s poor, rendering their ability to earn money even more difficult.

Global climate change, while more disastrous for the world’s poor, also poses a big problem for developed, wealthy countries. The article mentions that the economic losses from a 2010 heat wave in Russia was about US$15 billion, about 1% of their GDP. Similar problems arise in the United States with increased prevalence of wildfires in California due to lack of rainfall. Global climate change is an incredibly serious problem facing the world’s leaders and actions must be taken in order to slow the trend of warming temperatures. The article states a change of 4 degrees Celsius would put the global mean temperature at the same it was before the last ice age. It is imperative to take measures to prevent this from happening, as it affects us all.

sara.cook

Having taken econ 255, geology 101, and environmental studies with Professor Kahn, I have discussed climate change and explored how humans interact and affect the environment on many occasions and from different perspectives. I find all of it fascinating and this article was no exception. Now, having the exposure to development economics and realizing that much of the very poor are located in tropic regions around the world – the same regions where the impacts of climate change will be the most intense – the consequences of climate change in regards to our population appear even more devastating. The one comment, and disagreement, I have with the article is when it states that there are, “economically feasible emissions pathways to hold warming like below 2 degrees Celsius,” (pg.2). I don’t think this is neither a feasible nor a good goal. The rich countries would have to pour so much money into investing in and implementing low carbon emission technology that there would be little left over to not only help low income countries combat the inevitable climate changes but also stimulate development in these countries.

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