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Tanpreet Hunjan

The Turn Down the Heat report for the World Bank displayed the disturbing effects and aftermaths of a world 4°C Warmer. The author at one point states the distribution of impacts is likely to be inherently unequal and tilted against many of the world’s poorest regions,”. This statement emphasized to me how currently it feels as if little is done internationally to act on reducing our international carbon footprint and international effort in holding large corporations account for the negative environmental externalities they leave unaccounted for. When reading that regions with higher economic development will have higher “economic, institutional, scientific, and technical capacity to cope and adapt.” It underscored to me the deepening divide between developed and developing countries and how developed countries while working on more advanced changes to their environmental law and governance will pose an obstacle for developing countries. However, the detriment of climate change means that developed countries due to globalization and interconnectedness will in time face similar struggles to those of lee developed regions. The dichotomy of alleviating poverty or increasing carbon emissions is one of great difficulty evidently seen in countries of rapid industrial growth such as China and India.

Interestingly to me the legitimacy of climate change in the U.S is still debated. Making the need for policy reform and response to this report difficult. Coordination failure, therefore, plays a huge problem in being able to implement environmental policy reform. With some countries leadership denying climate changes negative externalities it is important going forward that awareness through report and research continues and that international reform and understanding occurs to make a real difference.


The first sentence of the foreword of this paper reads as follows: “It is my hope that this report shocks us into action.” Yet again, I am met with a theme in this course that will not soon leave my consciousness. We can speak ad nauseam of this world’s injustices with clinical efficiency, but until those who hear us are jarred by statistics that are personal, they will feel no call to action. Until it was made clear to me that my own home could be gone in a few decades, I cared little for the issue of anthropogenic climate change. Perhaps it is our innate selfishness that requires such a personal affront to engender change. Or perhaps we don’t see problems until they smack us into reality. A global mean temperature increase does not just mean fewer snow days for my grandchildren or a larger summer wardrobe. The difference in a world we could see at 4 degrees Celsius warmer is close to that that marks present time from the last ice age. To think of surviving in the ice age is nearly impossible, but to think of it in reverse is terrifying. The ice age affected the less populous arctic parts of the world disproportionately. But the 4 degrees Celsius world will affect the most populous parts more, leaving the already underdeveloped tropics and northern Africa more susceptible than anyone to devastating climate change that will rob from them their economies and their homes. The poor will suffer the most. They will lose their livelihood and even their lives. I understand the reasoning and the science behind the skew toward the poor from previous classwork and reading. But what struck me most in this paper was the following example.

Just the heatwave that struck Russia in 2010 led to 55,000 deaths, 25 percent crop failure and one million hectares burned. The economic loss was a staggering $15 billion, one percent of the country’s GDP. And this devastation was in a developed country with better market access and technology. It’s not too difficult to imagine the magnitude of such a change in country with GDP per capita under one hundred dollars. In Burundi or South Sudan – two countries who would feel the immeasurable effects of global climate change – a one percent decrease in GDP would mean a per capita decrease of what could be several days of work from what was only a heatwave. The magnitude of climate change in a 4 degrees Celsius world is by far more unsettling. The paper holds that this type of fatal heatwave would be a casual summer. The coolest months of the year would be warmer than the warmest are now.

I can feel with my body the warm days and try my best to imagine what a bitter February at 95 degrees might be. And I can understand what useless loss of life would occur due just to a warming world. But to understand how that increase in warmth could change the world’s economy is staggering. Even developed countries would lose crops and entire markets. The young of the tropics who could live through a heatwave would be left to create an economy in a world bereft of any sustainable agriculture or ecotourism.

The burden falls on this generation. I am young, but I do not wish for my great grandchildren a world free from the opportunities I enjoy today. To steal from them their world’s livelihood is both unfair and criminal. Policy can be the change, though. The World Bank is right – early, cooperative, international actions can make change happen.


This class has exposed us to how interdisciplinary economics can be and climate change is a perfect example of this. It is clear that climate change will have dramatic effects on the natural world, in addition the societal structures and health. All of these combined will greatly effect the world economy, and may be exacerbated by globalization. This report does a good job of briefly mentioning the wide variety of climate change effects that must be taken into consideration when considering the future costs of climate change. With increasing temperatures, it may become harder to continue the same level of agriculture in some regions, which could lead to malnutrition in many areas while also having serious effects on the global market. Or with rising sea levels, we may see entire tropical islands disappear from the map. These people obviously would have to go somewhere, creating another large refugee crisis. Rising sea levels will definitely not ignore higher developed countries though. The projections for major coastal cities like Miami are quite scary and could have ruinous effects on everything from property values to global shipping patterns. In all of these examples, we will eventually have to divert resources to cope with these hardships. So we can either pay now to prevent the problem or pay later while dealing with chaotic situations.

It is clear that action must be taken, and this report states that there are economically feasible ways to achieve our goals. I understand that the scientific community is somewhat trying to scare society about climate change and the need to take action, but I think the scare factor may be too dire. I believe many people think the problem is too great and impossible to solve so they continue to ignore it (this may not be true, as there are still plenty of people who are not on board with climate change). So I wish the message was made more clear that the steps to halt climate change are more attainable (not that it will be easy, but that it is still possible) and economically feasible.

Walker Tiller

After reading this paper, Turn the Heat Down, I began searching online deeper into this topic to find current data of sea levels rising as well as solutions for the devastating impact that rising seas could have. I found that in the 20th century sea levels were rising 0.6 in per decade and are now up to 1.2 inches per decade in some areas. Although this is such a small amount (and the idea of chasing redfish through the streets with a fly rod on these high flood tides is exciting to me), the compounding effect of these small increases could have a devastating effect on cities that are only a couple feet above sea level.

Being a realist the outcome seems inevitable that some cities will be at, or below sea level in only a couple hundred years in numerous areas. Especially considering the only "solutions" I found were to reduce the world populations' use of fossil fuel and emissions. As new alternatives are discovered and slowly adopted we are still barreling toward the outcome of rising seas. The outcome of rising seas will change many peoples lives and destroy many cities and homes, but the rationale form a long term view is that it has happened before, not at this rate, but change is inevitable and the coast line is always shifting. From my perspective in SC, the coastline used to be in Columbia which is now 115 miles from the coast and 300 feet above sea level. I am not arguing that rising sea levels are good or that this isn't an unbelievable fast change but that we as humans will be able to adapt.

Elizabeth Wolf

We read this paper last year in Environmental Economics, but upon reading it again I discovered nuances and implication that had previously escaped me. While the paper does an excellent job of quantifying the science – and the environmental implications of the changing climate – something that is not addressed in the paper are the effects that climate change has on global human capital. As noted in the paper, one of the characteristics of a warming world is an increase in vector-born disease and extreme weather. No pun intended, the perfect storm factor is that tropical regions are the most influenced by disease, extreme weather, and climate change (along with the poles). Tropical regions happen to be severely impoverished as well. Together, the convergence of these factors presents a haunting future for the world’s poor. These regions often lack the infrastructure and funding to warn against storms, to implement mitigation techniques, to rebuild after destruction, and prevent infectious disease from spreading and crippling populations. Based upon the facts and figures presented in this paper, the world’s poor will be hit the hardest by a warming climate and yet are the most powerless against it. As a sad irony to it all, these households contribute negligible amounts of greenhouse gases. Coupling this science with the reality of development economics, the picture becomes even bleaker. While aid programs, investments in education, protection of basic human rights, and increased agency are worthwhile, the lasting effects of these programs are negligible if the environment does not support (at least somewhat) stable human habitation. The uncertainty of tomorrow dictates the behavior of today, making individuals in developing countries significantly less likely to capitalize on opportunities already available and even less likely to create new opportunities for growth and development. In addition, even their basic human right of life (as Sen puts it) is called into question, making their potential contribution to the global fabric even more unlikely. Just as a country cannot harness all of its potential human capital if women are excluded from the labor force, the global market cannot maximize its production and efficiency if the human capital in tropical regions is consistently being decimated by global-warming induced unalterable ecological change. First things first, we must change our behavior to the planet, because if we don’t everything else will be of trivial impact.

Julia Mayol

I think what makes this paper really interesting is the fact that it clearly presents the extreme, shocking, and terrible consequences of global warming. As we were talking in Tuesday’s class, people usually tend to start caring about stuff when it negatively affects them or their family. As a 20-year-old person, and I am not sure about the rest of the Americans my age, but I think I can generalize it in relation to my generation in Argentina, I think the problem is that we all know that global warming is something wrong, but none of us know in detail why it is this bad. That is why I think this paper does a great job in explaining its consequences.

As the paper states, without further action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the world is likely to warm by more than 3°C above the preindustrial climate. This will have an effect in the rate of loss of ice, and as a consequence there will be an average global increase in sea level of around 15 cm by the end of the 21st century. This might be really ignorant of me, but if I were to read only this, my thoughts towards climate change would not change at all; in other words, this would not raise my awareness towards it. However, data such as death toll of 55000, an annual crop failure at about 25 %, burned areas at more than 1 million hectares, and economic losses at about US$15 billion, 1% of the GDP, which were the effects of the heat wave in Russia in 2010, do raise my awareness. The paper explains how higher temperatures reduce economic growth (especially in poor countries) and have wide-ranging effects, reducing agricultural output, industrial output, and political stability.

The raise in sea level is likely to cause floods, that interfere with food production, and could also induce nutritional deficits and the increased incidence of epidemic diseases. Moreover, flooding can introduce contaminants and diseases into healthy water supplies and increase the incidence of diarrheal and respiratory illnesses.

It seems to me, that one of the greatest problems with global warming is raising awareness of the immensity of this issue, and I believe a good way to do it is by emphasizing its mostly irreversible consequences.

Ololade Rachel Oguntola

Growing up in Nigeria, I learnt about global warming but learnt in the context of understanding the issues enough to pass my exams when a question on the definition of global warming came about. In other words, I only learnt about global warming because it was part of the syllabus not because it was something critical I had to pay attention to. It was only after coming to the US did I fully understand the magnitude of global warming or as commonly referred here as climate change. More specifically, I understood the full extent during a Geology class I took here at W&L my sophomore year. The paper does a good job of talking about the dangers of a 4°C world and its various impacts and implications. It is also very unfortunate to know that despite such glaring evidence of already rising temperatures and sea-level rises, there are those who have turned climate change into a political agenda. America’s President-Elect, Donald Trump, has stated that climate change is nothing but a Chinese hoax. It baffles me to know that there are those who will turn a blind eye to critical issues such as this all in an effort to save face and enjoy support from companies and industries that are contributing to the adverse effects of climate change.
In many instances, CO2 has been declared to be the main negative contributor to global warming and this paper also does a good job of highlighting that. However, the paper ignored to mention an even more dangerous gas which is methane, CH4. I recently watched Leonardo DiCaprio’s documentary on climate change, titled ‘Before the Flood’ and the documentary did an excellent job of laying all the issues and the evidence. I strongly encourage anyone who has not seen it, to see it without any hesitation. In the movie, I learnt that a molecule of CH4 contains about twenty molecules of CO2. When cows graze, they burp (and fart) and in the process, release a lot of CH4 into the atmosphere. With CH4 being more dangerous than CO2, it is thus not difficult to see that the meat industry is contributing significantly to climate change. In the movie also, I learnt that 1/2lb burger= 200hrs of 60W lightbulb use, 1/2lb burger= 24hrs window air-conditioner use, and 1/2lb burger=42miles of driving a Prius. Insane right? Unfortunately, many of the burgers that we enjoy, come from the meat/beef industry. The paper emphasizes the importance of taking action. It is one thing to turn off our lights when it’s not in use, but also, action can be taken with regard to our diet too. Towards the end of the paper, it says “A 4°C world is likely to be one in which communities, cities and countries would experience severe disruptions, damage, and dislocation, with many of these risks spread unequally. It is likely that the poor will suffer most and the global community could become more fractured, and unequal than today.” What saddens me greatly is that poor people in the developing countries and islands will have to suffer for the damage caused by the developed world. As much it is important to take action, we should be very intentional in our actions in doing all we can to avoid 4°C world because no matter our various political or social or religious or economical differences, each and everyone one of us have just one planet. It is imperative we do everything in our power to protect and save it before it's too late.

Jillian Leigh

While reading, "Turn Down the Heat," I kept remembering a paper we read earlier in the semester, " The Economic Lives of the Poor." When we discussed "The Economic Lives of the Poor" it was mentioned that the poorer countries, or developing countries, are typically located in the more tropical areas of the world, closer to the equator. This poses many restraints on their ability to efficiently produce agricultural goods, which is typically their main source of income. While I was reading "Turn Down the Heat" all I could think about was how climate change was going to effect these countries significantly more than developed countries. Not only are these countries not going to be able to afford any new technology to adapt to the new climate change, if nothing is done to prevent it from happening, but the result of this climate change is also going to stunt their development process.

Also after our class discussion, I realized that these countries are probably not the biggest polluters, but are going to be the ones who feel the repercussions the most. Countries who are creating a lot of this pollution, for example China, are claiming that since other countries got to pollute their way to development, they should get to too. I have a hard time accepting this. When the US was going through the industrial revolution we didn't know the effects of the pollution we were creating. China has evidence that they are hurting the environment, and in turn hurting these developing countries. They have the means to find other eco-friendly ways to stay on the same track to development but choose not to because it's most likely easier just to pollute. On a global scale this seems incredibly unfair that the developing countries have to be punished for China, among other countries, development.

Cara Hayes

We read this paper in Environmental Economics but, after taking Development, I have a very different perspective of it. Reflecting on my blog post from last year, I was only focused on the detrimental effects of climate change on environmental factors, like habitat destruction. After studying the developing world, I am extremely concerned with the impact of climate change on impoverished people. There are currently 1.2 billion people in the world living without electricity, yet they would feel the most extreme effects of a 4°C world. This captures the paradoxical nature of climate change, that those who cause it don’t bear the brunt of its consequences. “The distribution of impacts is likely to be inherently unequal and tilted against many of the world’s poorest regions, which have the least economic, institutional, scientific, and technical capacity to cope and adapt”(p. 1).

I would hope that this somber fact would “shock people into action” but it is easy to understand how people living in the United States would feel disconnected from the extremely impoverished in India and not feel pressure to adjust their consumption patterns on their behalf. However, some of the characteristics of a 4°C world, such as extreme heat waves, droughts and floods, already seem commonplace, even in the United States. The 2012 drought in the U.S. affected about 80 percent of agricultural land and, the current drought in the Southeastern United States, has caused raging wildfires. In August of this past year, Louisiana experienced devastating flooding which killed 13 people and damaged thousands of homes. Whether it is local natural disasters or sympathy for the developing world that causes people to take action, it is clear that developed countries, who produce the most greenhouse gases, must take the lead in reducing emissions and preventing a 4°C world because they are the main contributors to climate change.

Andy Kleinlein

The “Turn Down the Heat – Why a 40C Warmer World Must be Avoided” hammers home the point of justice to me. Early on in the semester, we discussed why inequality is a bad thing. While there are many reasons that inequality is bad in terms of economics, it main is just unfair. There is a certain uncomfortable feeling that most humans have knowing that there are many people in the world are suffering. I think this is a huge issue in terms of global warming. In a first world country, I constantly contribute, directly and indirectly, to negatively affecting the environment. I drive my car, which lets off toxins into the environment and I purchase items that come from companies who contribute to the destruction of the environment. The issue is we have the resources to protect ourselves. We damage the environment, but we can always avoid the effects to some extent. The most harmful effects are seen in poor countries. In poor countries, these people do not really contribute to the problem, but they are faced with it. Therefore, the rich pollutes the world and it destroys the poor, but the rich are the only ones who can avoid the consequences of their actions. The government must put in laws to protect the poor. It is irresponsible for us to go about these actions with no consequences and creates an unfair world.

Matthew Sgro

The report "Turn Down the Heat" provided by the World Bank Group illustrates the terrifying effects our world is going to face as temperatures continue to rise. I found this article interesting because I am an Environmental Studies minor and have learned about much of what was discussed in this paper. As we have learned in this class the effects of development build upon each other, this is similar for the effects of climate change. For example as carbon emissions increase, temperatures follow the same trend and cause many negative consequences (such as coral bleaching->then leading to less biodiversity).

I found what Jillian said above to be very true - that many of the less developed countries live in tropic zones and will be the most affected by these changes, but they are probably the ones least contributing to these problems. As the MIT study from the reading reported,"
Higher temperatures substantially reduce economic growth in
poor countries and have wide-ranging effects, reducing agricultural
output, industrial output, and political stability" (pg. 4). These problems such as increased storm intensity and increased aridity among the developing countries would be catastrophic. As we've seen in our class these developing nations cannot afford droughts and poor crop years, it disrupts their entire livelihood.

Therefore, the responsibility falls upon the more developed/industrialized nations. Certainly there has been progress throughout the world- many businesses have 'green initiatives', the influx of hybrid and electric cars, and greater use of alternative energy sources have all been on the rise in the last two decades. (From my own experience "Lincoln Financial Field" home of the Philadelphia Eagles is considered the most sustainable sports arena currently with very obvious exterior solar panels and wind turbines on the stadium itself). However, more must be done if we truly want to have an impact, and I believe this change must come in the form of policy; especially in an effort to decrease carbon dioxide emissions. Yet, the United States (a country whose decisions could potentially have substantial impacts on this issue) just elected a President who recently called climate change a hoax invented by the Chinese. Uh oh.

Crosby Ellinger

The article, "Turn Down the Heat" clearly lays out the potentially damaging effects of climate change and rising temperatures around the world, especially in developing countries. Like Jillian, my initial thought when reading this article brought me back to earlier in the semester, when we discussed how many developing countries were located in tropical climates, while developed countries were mostly located in sub-tropic environments.

We learned that these tropical environments were one of the factors that limited developing countries in their overall production and GDP, as hotter climates often produce lower quality soil and have less water. This makes it more difficult for developing countries to expand, as they cannot reach the level of output to save and invest and grow their economy.

This article ties into the lecture from earlier in the semester, as it mentions the effects of global climate change on these tropical environments, specifically that these areas will be impacted much more than other environmental zones. The article states, "Some estimates indicate that a 4°C warming would significantly exacerbate existing water scarcity in many regions, particularly
northern and eastern Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia, while additional countries in Africa would be newly confronted with water scarcity on a national scale due to population growth." This illustrates that unless we make significant efforts to cutback on human factors that cause this temperature change, developing countries located in these regions will be extremely effected, as water shortages, among other factors would be exacerbated, resulting in drought, famine, and possible economic collapse, in agrarian societies.

For me, this article is a call for reform for developed countries. While developed countries have the capital and technology to deal with this climate change (potentially atleast) developing countries do not, and will be effected far worse than developed countries. I think that it is imperative that the government works to create incentives moving forward both to increase research for cleaner energy, as well as cut back on carbon emissions.

Allie Barry

I recently wrote my final research paper for my Introduction to Latin American Caribbean Studies course on the impact of tourism in the Caribbean. This topic is of great interest to me as I spent my sophomore year spring term with Professor Shay studying business in the Caribbean while sailing around and getting to visit various islands in the region. While I only focused a portion of my paper on the environmental impacts of tourism, this reading harkened back to many similar points about the impact of global warming on this island region and how environmental degradation could impact the entire economy and the lives of the people on these islands more than some may realize at first glance. This paper discussed the possible cascade effects at one point and how “climate change will not occur in a vacuum.” While it is obvious that climate change needs to be addressed because the environment has value, this paper also points out how the changes in the environment will impact the food, income, and tourism industries. After visiting many islands and speaking to locals there it is clear that many of the islands in the Caribbean rely on tourism as a main source of their income and economic growth. With more frequent extreme weather, destruction of coral reefs, scarcity of clean water and various other effects of climate change, the tourism industry will likely diminish in these areas. By harming the tourism industry this could result in economic stagnation for many of these islands who are still working toward economic development.

In my paper I also discussed the fact that these resorts and hotels often create enclaves on the islands and within the societies. This tends to happen more often when the resorts are all inclusive which concentrates the economic benefits only on the resorts and excludes the surrounding local areas and towns from any economic benefits. These tourism enclaves and resorts with the money and power will have the resources to deal with some of the immediate environmental impacts on the area, however the local areas in the surroundings will not. This further demonstrates the point of how the environmental impacts of climate change will fall disproportionally on the poor and those who are unable to handle the consequences. This paper highlights some of the key issues with climate change which need to be addressed before further warming occurs and destroys or displaces many of these islands populations.

Michael Hegar

As I read this report I was reminded of the climate section from an Environmental Studies class I took last year. In the class we talked about many of the issues discussed in this report about the impact of rising global temperature on the environment and the lasting, irreversible effects it would have on the planet.

Reading this with a people oriented perspective, I found myself thinking how unfair it was that developed nations ruined the world for everyone. Temperatures in already hot places are going to rise as a result. Farmers will have to deal with drought and arid soil. This will be devastating in developing nations as many people grow food for sustenance. Poorer countries without A/C will suffer from even more heat related deaths.

Part of me wants to be angry at the greedy, consumer-driven world I live in that has screwed up the earth, but I am a part of the problem. I have a car that pollutes and feeds into the problem. I am not actively trying to fix the problem. And this is part of the problem. Apathy. If we remain apathetic about this issue, the bleak predictions scientists have made will come to pass.


The World Bank's article called "Turn Down the Heat" reminded me of my environmental science class that i took last year with Professor Green. Our class had a couple seminars on the repercussions of our high consumption and a few evening talks about Climate Change. This article reminded me specifically about how disconnected we are with the actual consequences that come about from our constant use of fossil fuels and general waste. As we developed into the nations we are today we paid little to no attention to our environmental impact and have ultimately left the world scarred by our actions, but now that were at our current situation were left with a choice. We can continue down the path that we are currently on and ultimately destroy the earth even more or we can try and change our ways. But with the externalities being so negative and only the lesser developed parts of the world really feeling the negative impact it is extremely unlikely that we will start the turn around on the level that we need to anytime soon. In our environmental science class, we also discussed the attitude that many developing nations, like China, have when it comes to consuming on a similar level to the developed nations. They feel that it doesn't make sense that the Developed Nations were able to reach their level of success by taking full advantage of the earth and exploiting their resources in any manner they saw fit but the developing nations have to avoid using the same methods. We discussed how this created a situation where the Developed Nations are going to have to assist or bear a large portion of the cost of implementing newer more environmentally friendly means of advancement (like green technology) within the developing nation or otherwise they will likely have to face the developing nations using the old environmentally hazardous ways. Ultimately the actions of both the developed and developing nations will be determined by how much of the externalities people are willing to pay for despite the negative effects not directly affecting them in the short run.

Matt Parker

This paper was fairly familiar to me after the Natural Resource and Environmental Economics class last winter. After reading this, many different thoughts flowed through my brain so I'll try to organize them in some sort of cohesive manner.

My first thought after reading this and many similar papers is I truly don't understand the reasoning behind the denial of climate change. I wrote probably 2-3 blog posts in the Econ 255 about the presence of Oil and Gas companies in lobbying but I don't know how that could explain all of it. The denial of climate change reminded me of a relevant quote from the HBO show The Newsroom that I dug up. "Bias towards fairness means if the entire congressional republican caucus were to walk into the house proposing a resolution that the world was flat the Times would lead with, "Republicans and Democrats can't agree on shape of earth."" Now this post isn't meant to condemn a party in any way, but rather question the motivation behind its' leaders continuous questioning of what is a scientific reality. Especially when leaders such as John McCain accepted the reality of climate change not too long ago (for those curious John McCain was once called Captain Climate for his bipartisan work with senator Lieberman on climate change). I understand there is argument for how much is manmade and how dire the consequences will be or how far out the harshest consequences are but the outright denial baffles me.

My second thought is that it is human nature to not want to sacrifice one's way of life. It would require a major shock in my opinion to make people want to change their consumption habits in developed countries. How do we combat this desire to consume then in terms of shifting toward clean energy and less carbon emmissions? Well for one we need to make alternative energy forms competitive against fossil fuels. There are constant improvements in the efficiency of solar and wind energy as well as the development of MSR nuclear energy (I highly recommend taking a look at MSR). Once the price is competitive I think people will have a much easier time shifting their energy sources. I also think diversifying our energy portfolio as we talked about in 255 would help insulate us from potential shocks to an energy form.

My final thought is that I can not picture the world ever reaching the fully developed consequences detailed in this paper. Maybe that makes me part of the problem in a sense, but I just feel that innovation has always allowed us to adapt to different circumstances. It's entirely possible this will be one fight technology can't win, but I also can't help but think we would ever allow climate change consequences to get that far. I couldn't begin to imagine what the breaking point would be, all I know is that desperation drives innovation and we are nothing if not innovative.

Rachel Baer

After our class discussions and reading this week’s paper, “Turn Down the Heat” from the World Bank, it is hard to ignore the reality of the rapid change in global climate. The first sentence in the foreward of the paper explains: “It is my hope that this report shocks us into action.” I believe that is it easy for us to think that climate change is happening so slowly that it will not have an impact on us during out lifetime. But I think that this mindset can change with a knowledge and understanding of what is happening to the world, and result in more immediate action and change. The World Bank attempts to do so in this paper by reporting multiple statistics on how our lives would be different in a “4°C world”

One of the most concerning statistics presented in the paper was the about heat waves in Russia during the summer of 2010. The head wave resulted in a death toll of 55,000, a 25% annual crop failure, burned more than 1 million hectares of land, and the overall economic loss added up to approximately $15 billion dollars, or 1% of GDP (3). Keeping these impacts in mind, when I continued to read the paper and the following prediction was especially concerning to me: “Recent extreme heat waves in Russia in 2010 are likely to become the new normal summer in a 4°C world”(4). While it feels like climate change is occurring too slowly to effect my generation, knowing that these heat waves happened only 6 years ago and are expected to be the new normal in the future drives me to want to change the way we are treating the environment now, and hopefully further slow or reduce the climbing global temperature.

To conclude, I believe that the best way to encourage change in our generation and promote sustainable growth is to spread awareness of the problems that our environment is experiencing, and the huge impacts they could have. It is important to consider the impacts of climate change in both our own lives here in the U.S. and in the poor, less developed countries. Perhaps we don’t feel the impacts of an increase in global climate as quickly or fully because we have access to markets and resources, and because of this it is even more important to consider the disproportionate negative impacts in those poor countries.

Matthew Jones

Much like other topics that we have discussed so far in Development Economics, Climate Change puts a disproportionate share of the impact on the world’s poor. Despite all the progress economic development has had in the past several decades, climate change threatens to undo a significant portion of it. Thinking about the recently formed Sustainable Development Goals, many of the targets are going to be even more difficult to achieve with a rapidly changing climate. No one stands to benefit, but the fact that an unequal amount of burden will be placed on the poor perhaps explains why little is being done to curtail the potential rise of our earth by 4 degrees Celsius.

Members of the developing world already have inadequate access to institutions, so how are they supposed to do anything to affect climate change with little to no say on the matter? Personally, I find the article appalling and believe something must be done in order to try and reverse the onset of climate change. However, as of right now there is little being done in the world to prevent people from conducting activities that are detrimental to the environment. Furthermore, there is no doubt more that can be done in the advanced technological world that we live in to contribute less as a population to climate change. Clean energies like solar panels and wind turbines could play a vital role in reducing the effects of climate change, but when the countries that have the means to harness these forms of energy are unlikely to experience the worst effects of climate change, it is unlikely any change on the matter will occur. The only way to reverse climate change and prevent the developing world from bearing a majority of the costs associated with it will be by enforcing punishments for contributing to the change.

Alex Shields

I feel the article makes a very strong point about our current path and the effect our decisions will have on the environment moving forward. Unlike other topics we have studied in which our role is merely to help developing nations, development in terms of the environment is different than most topics because it remains one that we are directly harming developing nations and they are paying for most of the costs of our decisions. Environmental deterioration is a problem for the whole world, not just the developing world. For this reason, it is imperative that the United States leads the way in bringing about change. As the largest per capita emitter of carbon emissions, we need to really make progress towards improving total emissions. My brother owns a Tesla which has introduced me to the benefits of electric cars. While the technology is amazing, there are a number of issues that the government still needs to address. First of all, they are expensive. While car companies are developing newer, lower cost electric vehicles, the prices are still far too high and therefore an overnight transition to electric vehicles cannot be expected. A second issue, one the government can certainly help fix, is the lack of electric charging stations for cars. Whenever my brother travels, he has to plan all his trips around finding charging stations because these stations are rare to find. This discourages him from travelling in his Tesla. The government needs to step in and begin to fund the creation of new charging stations if they truly want electric vehicle technology to take off. Actions like these will start to improve the environmental around the world very slowly but more importantly, the United States will send a message to other countries around the world that preventing climate change is a goal that all countries should strive for.

Unfortunately, protecting the environment isn't something that can be achieved individually by each country around the world, it is a global issue and one that all nations need to do their part to aid. The concern for many is that, while improvements are made in many countries, others will not take the necessary steps to help solve the issue. Some developing economies around the world have seen their emissions spike in a big way (China) while most around the globe are seeing improvements. In order to truly prevent a temperature rise of 4 degrees, the entire world will need to make sacrifices and work together towards this common goal.

Pearce Embrey

I'm not going to lie, this article is pretty scary. I've always heard that it is important to take care of our environment, but I've never really thought much about it, especially in terms of the economy. I guess this is kind of similar to what we talked about Tuesday- how many people don't really think or care about issues until they are able to relate to the adverse effects themselves. It appears, at least from looking at my colleagues' comments, that the story of the Russian heat wave of 2010 struck a chord with us all. While maybe 1% of national GDP doesn't seem THAT high at first glance, if the world experienced a consistent warming of 39.2 degrees fahrenheit, all of our economies would experience problems of this magnitude or greater. It is true that the poorest people in the world would be affected more by global warming, perhaps this fear of losing GDP to major world powers will incite us more to solve the problem of greenhouse gas emissions.

Spencer Payne

I read this World Bank report last year in Environmental and Natural Resource Economics, but after taking this course and a Geology lab it felt like I was reading this paper for the first time. Three main questions permeated my thoughts as I was reading it: (a) what responsibility developed countries must bear for rising sea levels, (b) how efficiently are developed countries combating malnutrition, malaria, and respiratory disorders in developing countries, and (c) how dedicated are developed countries like the United States to raising long-term welfare in the developing world?

More specifically, my first question asks what responsibility must developed countries take for their actions that have caused sea levels to rise at a historic rate. For if oceans continue to rise, many developing island nations will no longer be above water. When that point approaches, is the developed world just going to allow those places to flood? Will it take efforts like building large flood walls to prevent the devastation for a short period? Or will developed countries allow these “sea level refugees” to immigrate into their communities? I am not sure what the answer is, but I think planning ahead would be wise.

The efficiency with which developed countries are combating issues that we have already discussed and read about such as malnutrition, malaria, and respiratory disorders is also something that this paper got me thinking about. I might characterize the situation as perversely comical. We have developed countries like the United States pouring serious amounts of money into efforts that increase the access and affordability of fresh drinking water, bed nets, and medical care. Yet, these countries are, at the same time, polluting at such a high level that the global climate has gotten warmer — creating conditions conducive for crop failures (increasing malnutrition), malaria (as a result of increased humidity), and respiratory disorders (as a result of high smog levels). Sadly, it appears that developed countries are hindering the effectiveness of their assistance in their constant effort to maximize GDP.

All of this leads me to my last question: how dedicated are developed countries to raising long-term welfare in the developing world? This may be an incredibly cynical position, but I suspect very little. At their current rate of depletion, natural resources are a zero sum game, and developed countries are winning. They do not really seem to care that the social costs associated with their deleterious actions are disproportionally affecting developing countries half the world away. Sure, they will throw some money into programs that might increase the accessibility of bed nets. But if developed countries polluted less, less bed nets would be needed all together. If we are serious about the welfare of developing countries, we need to reduce our carbon footprint in addition to sustaining assistance efforts. Hopefully, as its first line suggests, this report shocks the developed world out of its inequitable complacency and into action.

Corey Guen

It’s particularly devastating, in a report written with the purpose of shocking its’ readers, to reach the concluding remark, “It is likely that the poor will suffer most and the global community could become more fractured, and unequal than today.” It’s cruel that the global poor we’ve studied all term, for whom day-to-day life is a struggle, will bear the fastest and most severe consequences of the developed world’s inability to acknowledge its mistakes. There is a great deal to be proud of and impressed by in humanity’s march to improvement, but too often greed and the relentless pursuit of growth have left runaway impacts, impacts which disproportionately affect those who have not induced them. That’s part of why it’s so disappointing that a report of this tone is necessary, that many people complicit in the foretold demise of the planet refuse to acknowledge the problem’s mere existence, much less raise a finger to halt it. Instead of devoting our resources to tackling a problem with near unanimous scientific consensus, we squabble over who’s at fault and the legitimacy of research. Climate change debate has made it acceptable to have an opinion of, or to believe in, a fact. A fact, by its definition, should be immutable, but fear and ignorance have dismissed this foundation. It’s difficult offer insight to such a serious piece, when the implications are so severe. I hope our innate sense of self-preservation kicks in at some point before it’s too late, but it’s certainly hard to picture that future from our current position.


The World Bank’s report on climate change summarized, with a litany of facts and frightening predictions, why climate change is one of, if not the most, important issues facing our nation and the world right now. However, as much as I believe every country on our planet should be taking every action within their means to mitigate this issue, the reasons against doing so make perfect sense. In my Environmental Ethics course last winter, we discussed an interesting reason for inaction towards climate change I had never heard or thought of before: human beings, from an evolutionary perspective, are hard-wired to react to and care about immediate threats to their survival (hence the time-discounting factor we have in economics), and so when faced with a threat like climate change, which we can’t readably see, and who’s consequences will not fully be felt for decades, we are not inclined by nature to deal with it, even after reading all the data in a report like the World Bank’s. Also, for industries like big oil that have billions of dollars at stake, and massive political clout because of this money, unless they have to feel the true costs of their negative externalities, it doesn’t make sense for them to want to give up profits for the benefit of the planet, especially when the eventual consequences of their actions are going to be hurting those in poor developing countries much more than them. Thus, we see what has been mentioned in a few previous comments, which is that people aren’t going to take action unless they believe it will help them personally. And, even though the future costs of climate change will be tremendous, capitalists in the US aren’t having to deal with those costs now, and so do not want to take action. I actually experienced this principle in action recently. Keurig machines are awful for the environment because every individual plastic cup ends up in a landfill; indeed, the creator of the Keurig, who is incredibly wealthy because of it, has said he regrets producing it because of the extent of its negative environmental impact. My fraternity house has a Keurig machine, and although we have a coffee machine with a pot, the default method for making coffee for most of this year has been the Keurig. Partly out of laziness and partly because we have some very conservative members of our fraternity that don’t believe in climate change, explaining the environmental impact of the Keurig did little to reduce its use. However, when it was explained that the Keurig is incredibly cost-ineffective compared to making pots of coffee, and that the money our fraternity saved from ditching the Keurig and switching to pots of coffee could be used to buy other things, members finally curbed their Keurig usage—because the costs of the Keurig were affecting them personally. The only realistic way to get the “early, cooperative international actions” prescribed at the end of the report is to find a way to implement policies and structures that make corporations and individuals alike pay the full environmental costs of their decisions, using models that err on the side of overestimation, as I have a feeling that, as mentioned, many models under-predict things such as major tipping points and compounded effects.


I think this article was very interesting as I am currently in Environmental Studies and we just had a discussion on carbon emissions. There are two things that stick out to me most about this paper. The first is that I find it astounding that with all of this evidence supporting/proving global climate change, a majority of Republicans refuse it’s existence without providing any sort of scientific evidence. I think that is a huge problem in the United States in terms of environmental policy. Even if people don’t want to look at scientific evidence, just walk outside in the summer or listen to the weather channel. I do not remember Charlotte ever being as hot as it was this past summer, and I say that every single year. Second, in our class discussion today we debated Cap and Trade policy vs. a Carbon Tax. This is something I would like to talk about in class. Cap and trade is already implemented in the United States but I personally don’t think it is enough. In theory cap and trade makes great sense. But I am not quite sure if the fines for not reaching sustainability caps are high enough. I feel as if there are many firms that have so much revenue that it is simply easier for them to ignore sustainability goals and to simply pay the fine. Obviously I would have to find data to see the extent of this. On the other hand, I think a carbon tax is a very interesting proposition. It would definitely provide an incentive to reduce emissions, and could be used in a way that the tax is greater for those who emit the most carbon. In terms of affecting prices of just about everything in the United States, one such solution to that problem could be to simply reduce income tax so that people keep more of their income so as to be able to cope with the rise in prices. If done correctly, in theory, this would not be a bad policy because even though there is less revenue in income tax, the government would make up that lost revenue through the carbon tax. But then again there has yet to be a carbon tax implemented in the United States so it is hard to provide concrete evidence of its efficacy and possible success. This is something I think would be interesting to cover in class tomorrow.

Jack Miller

Ella Rose

I found this article very compelling, and directed a a person just like myself. I feel like I have heard this story 1,000 times, yet don't know what to do about it. I remember learning about all the trash in the ocean that makes up an island the size of Texas in the pacific ocean. I remember being stunned and shocked that no one was talking about this regularly. But, in the end, I became just as guilty as the people I was condemning for not taking action. Years later, I haven't thought about that island more than five times... This article, i fear, will be similar. While reading it, I was shocked. There are real consequences that will have mortal impacts on people, some impacts that we can't even predict. We are talking about a world that our children will live in, and yet no one seems to be listening. Why is that? Why don't I listen? I think a lot of it has to do with distraction and free-riding. These problems occur slowly over time. They do not happen over night, and therefore its easy to push their solutions back to be tomorrow's problem. For people living in North America, these problems are also not right in our face. We do a pretty good job escaping from any sort of climate, sitting in air conditioned buildings and swimming in man-made chlorinated pools. So for us, it does not seem like a pressing issue. In addition, free-riding is a huge problem with climate change. One person will not make a huge impact, and since everyone knows that, every person gets away with doing nothing. I feel that the combination of these two things pushes climate change into the back of people's minds.

Lastly, as I was reading this article, I was reminded of Rawls veil of ignorance. In this exercise people are to imagine that they could wake up one day living in any time period, on any continent, with any sort of genetic make-up. Not knowing where you would end up, what rules would you put in place to govern the society you live in? If you think about this in regard to climate change, it only seems just that we would make an effort to mitigate our impact on the earth's climate. It is likely that you could wake up in 2080, living in Africa. Would you be in favor of the way we are treating the world now? It is pure luck that I am not living in Africa now, or in 2080, so I need to step up and fight for those that aren't as lucky as I am.

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