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El Ellenz

Well, that was depressing. It becomes even more so when you see that it was published in 2014, then open up the 2022 IPCC report and see that we are very much not on track to meet the 1.5 degree threshold. This report also leads me to question whether or not Solow’s statements on the fungibility of resources and not owing to the future any particular thing are really all that relevant when it comes to the scale and scope of what we’re actually facing, particularly given the incredibly interdependent nature of ecosystems and ecosystem services (meaning that we don’t know how one loss that we might deem ‘acceptable’ could trigger a cascade of losses that we would view as ‘unacceptable). Clean air, drinkable water, temperatures appropriate for agricultural yields—these resources do not feel particularly fungible. Nor do critical carbon sinks, such as Russia’s boreal forests and the Amazon. We may not know the exact preferences of the future, but these are some things we can be pretty sure that humanity will continue to want and need. I also find myself growing increasingly wary of appeals to the technological capacity of the future. Thus far, we’ve been doing a rather poor job of utilizing the technological capacity that we already have, whether that be due to skewed incentives, deeply vested interests, or extreme inequality. This makes it challenging to be optimistic about a ‘technofix’ future, particularly when there’s little reason to believe that the segments of the population controlling future production/energy will be much different from those who currently hold that kind of power.

Gabe Miller

This report really emphasizes our topic on Wednesday- what exactly we mean when we say 'sustainable'. If we want sustainable to mean "improving the present without leaving the future in a worse position", this report says some pretty damning stuff. I am most concerned about the rise in sea-levels and cyclone severity, particularly for developing countries with urban areas along the coast. The southeastern American seaboard already deals with fairly frequent flooding and (natural but worsening) hurricanes- and it costs the United States billions of dollars. That amount of damage is can be taken by the United States economy, but I am not sure how smaller economies would react to that damage. Sea levels and increasing storms might cause mass migration from seaside urban centers, harming a country's ability to develop a strong manufacturing center and accumulate capital. In some cases, it might even cause refugee crises. Urban centers along the water are also mostly port cities, meaning export (or import) reliant countries could be severely affected by sea levels and storms.

A present trend not discussed in class is the UN sending engineers to developing countries to consult on how to mitigate climate change. Increasingly, all world countries are investing in and sharing technology to combat environmental challenges. Like we said in class, technology could offset environmental damage. One thing I would really like to see is whether, in the past 5 years, technology has prevented or mitigated environmental challenges in developing regions of the world.

Trip Wright

I think El's opening line captured my reaction completely. It also pairs well with how I was feeling after class yesterday. The changing climate on Earth is such a pressing issue that requires meaningful action to mitigate the harmful effects of a warming planet. My first concern while reading this paper from the World Bank Group deals with the fact that they alluded to "Turn Down the Heat" as being a series—this version is part of the third edition. However, the paper was published way back in 2014, almost nine years ago! I'm curious as to why the series was suspended because I'd be very intrigued to see what the facts and figures are today. The paper lists 8 projected impacts under future climate change scenarios predicted from the already 0.8 degrees Celsius increase in warming from pre-industrial levels that the world experienced in 2014. I want to focus on the social vulnerability impacts of climate change because it ties well into the importance of development to implement resilience institutions. I remember in ECON-255 realizing that those most impacted by climate change are among the lowest contributors to the problem. This idea became reality when Pakistan experience dramatic flooding this past summer which displaced some 33 million people; I cannot imagine a population 1/10 the size of the United States having to relocate due to a planet-warming disaster. Wealth individuals and corporations whose hands contribute most to the issue also have the financial means to adapt to say rising sea levels or drought; it is easier to use disposable income to either move or purchase a scarce resource. From my sociology background, I am most concerned with the migratory patterns that will come with a changing climate. In fact, in the next five years it is projected that global temperatures will reach 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels; a doubling in warmth In only ten years. As the planet warms in the Middle East and North Africa, individuals from rural areas may no longer be able to farm the same crops which will contribute to international migration, which places heavy stress on urban infrastructure. I hope to study "cities of the future" and how urban cores ought to be designed to accommodate a growing percentage of humans living in metropolitan areas. Another risk involves increased conflict due to scarce resources among poor migrants and a world that caters only to those with the money to resist lifestyle changes. My fear of a warming planet resides in the social consequences of the global inaction we bear witness to daily.

Ryan Messick

I think the topics covered in the article highlight the immense importance of maintaining ecological sustainability. The idea of countries that already suffer from food shortages having a potential to see decreased crop yield will prove immensely detrimental to their ability to develop. Not only will this stunt the movement to help focus on modern sectors in these countries, but it will also prevent those countries that use agriculture as a primary source of economic value. Additionally, I find the increased risk of natural disasters to be a massive point of concern for developing countries. We’ve seen in the past that countries like Haiti have had their entire society destroyed by an earthquake, and I can only imagine what barrages of hurricanes and other disasters may cause for countries in similar situations.

Jack Lewis

I think this paper really set the tone for how horrible the outlook is not just for the U.S. but for the whole world if we continue to turn the other cheek to climate change. The paper is a good wake-up call because of how depressing and stressful the projections are for our world. However, I still have doubts that this paper and papers like this will have a meaningful impact on climate change. Climate change policy is still neglected today and this article was written in 2014. In fact, there are still debates over if climate change is real. If politicians are debating on the validity of climate change today, how will policies such as a carbon tax ever get put in place to reduce carbon emissions? I worry most about countries that depend on agriculture such as Latin America. For example as temperatures rise 2 degrees celsius and above, "soybeans will experience up to a 70 percent yield
decline in some areas of Brazil, and maize up to a 60 percent yield decline in Brazil and Ecuador by 2050 relative to a 1989–2009 baseline." It is hard to even imagine some of the effects the world will experience when temperatures rise to 4 degrees celsius and above. We can only hope that up and coming generations put more emphasis on reducing climate change so the future has the option to be agents of a life they desire.

Chris Ruiz

Shoutout to the World Bank for a screamer of a paper. It always surprises me that such seemingly minimal rises in temperature can yield such destructive results. The best way to combat this is lab grown meat. Also the UN needs to be more proactive and on the ass of the Brazilian government. The president of Brazil has sacrificed the environment in the name of economic prosperity. With the Amazon being one of the largest carbon sinks in the world, it is imperative that policymakers and supranational organizations do what they can to slow if not reverse the deforestation of the Amazon. The rainforest should be capturing carbon, not emitting it. With the advent of lab grown meat, the cattle industry would slow and the desire for deforestation would decline. It is easier said than done, and something that cannot happen on a large scale for years if not decades to come. However, I ultimately feel like this is the most reasonable solution to the issue of the cattle industry and other livestock emitting greenhouse gases. In addition to implementing more sustainable consumption of animal products, the continued growth of renewable energy and the weaning off of gas-powered vehicles will be crucial to the world's fight against climate change. I think we are starting to see some good things in the arena of green movements and emphasizing environmentally conscious practices. We just have to hope that the developing world does not develop as we did, and instead skips a few steps that would further contribute to the detriment of the Earth. Some of the least prepared parts of the world to handle the impacts of climate change are also likely to be some of the hardest hit, like the arid countries of North Africa or some of the island nations in the Caribbean/South Pacific. Until we live in a world where environmental health is on equal if not superior footing with profits, we can all do our part to mitigate our carbon footprints and control what we can control. I personally think Josh Fingerhut could stand to recycle a bit more.

Ngoc Le

Sadly, nothing in this paper surprised me. I honestly don't really know what to say, we are clearly not doing nearly enough to slow down our own destruction. But hey, maybe it's just human nature, and some of us are doing our best to fix this, but maybe it's just never going to be enough. Let's take comfort in the fact that there are uncountable of planets in this universe, and "there was a time where there weren't humans on Earth, and there probably will be a time where there weren't humans on Earth anymore".

Joe Jackson

Reading this World Bank executive summary more than anything made me feel very angry. Seeing as this was published back in 2014, it is really disheartening to know that this knowledge about the catastrophic impacts of climate change has been available for eight years now and it still feels like so little action is being taken to combat any of what the summary outlines. A global problem that threatens a massive loss of life around the world has not had impactful action taken against it, particularly by some of the greatest contributors to the issue. So much of the hesitancy seems to me to rest on the idea of temporal discounting, where individuals overvalue short-term benefits than benefits in the long term. We talked in class about what the opportunity cost to combating climate change would be, about 1% or so of GDP over the next 2-5 years, but I like how this paper reinforces that idea by explaining the massive costs of not highlighting climate change. Unfortunately, neither of these supposed “long-term” benefits outweigh the short-term benefits of economic growth or international power politics. I think that this paper tries in some ways to reframe the thought that combating climate change is a long-term effort, but I think in doing so references impacts in the later 21st century or centuries beyond. For many readers who may not live to see the impacts in the future, it may be easier to think about this as a long-term problem for a different generation to deal with. I would be curious to see if there were different reactions for individuals who are presented with climate change impacts that have already occurred or are occurring than what the projected impacts will be. Hopefully seeing more examples of climate change already in action would cause more individuals to push those with the ability to make an impact on this issue to start taking action.

Ian Kinney

I thought this reading did a good job of contextualizing climate projections and making it clear what the practical effects of global warming will be, highlighting local as well as global trends that are expected to play out. Particularly concerning are projections that droughts in the Amazon and the thawing of the permafrost may lead to a positive feedback loop in which climate change causes historic carbon sinks to become major sources of Co2/methane emissions.

The magnitude of the projected declines in agricultural productivity, hydropower generation, and assorted ecosystem services highlights how the transition to a post-fossil-fuel future will be made more difficult as climate change begins to impact more and more of the global economy. Particularly considering that many of the hardest-hit countries will be relatively poor countries that contributed little to global greenhouse gas emissions, richer countries have a role to play in helping others to undertake needed reforms. One possible model may be the deal between the EU and Eskom, South Africa’s largest public utility, in which the EU promises to provide funding (grants and low-interest loans) for Eskom’s transition from a coal-heavy utility to renewable power sources, including funding for retraining workers.

Josh Fingerhut

Although those taking this class likely already know this to be true, this paper makes it obvious that urgent action is necessary on the topic of climate. Having taken ECON 255 and to avoid being repetitive, I want to focus this short blog post on the question of tariffs. When discussing Solow's talk on sustainability, we brought up the fact that we have an obligation to protect current generations as well as future ones. Therefore, it may not be morally unreasonable to pollute in the name of lifting current populations out of poverty. In class, I mentioned that issues with this framework quickly arise when applied on a country-wide level by governments. Protecting your own citizens is a lot less justifiable if it comes at the cost of economic development elsewhere.

Going off of this, I think one can see this framework play out with tariffs. Countries will often impose tariffs using the justification that they are protecting jobs. One example of this is US tariffs on solar panels. In May of last year, there was an investigation launched into the possibility that South Asian countries were illegally getting around US tariffs on solar panels. This investigation threatened to halt all imports from these countries, 80% of all the materials used in US solar projects. When applied on a country-specific level, one can see why governments may do this. However, when applied on a global level, I believe this totally violates Solow's notion of sustainability. By launching this investigation and threatening retroactive tariffs, progress on green energy projects became under threat. Furthermore, from a global sustainability perspective, it should not matter whether creating these solar panels creates a job in China or the US. In fact, it is likely that solar pannel manufacturing lifts more people out of poverty at the margin in China than in the US.

Ultimately, Biden decided to suspend all tariffs for 24 months. As explained, this was the right move from a global sustainability perspective but of course, drew outrage from solar lobbyists in the US.

Will Kistler

This paper is the definition of grim. From the vulnerability of populations in the Middle East due to decreasing crop yields to the heat sensitivity of the Russian boreal forests, it would seem that we are shit out of luck. I remember watching “The Inconvenient Truth”, the movie about Al Gore’s climate change PSA back when he was running for president, and first being introduced to the nature of our planet’s fragility to climate change. It’s really chilling to think that just 1-degree celsius changes in our atmosphere can lead to such catastrophic consequences; however, that is the reality of earth. This fact, coupled with the circular nature of our world’s economy, results in small changes that lead to major variable outcomes.

The problem that I find to be the most urgent is water scarcity. With rising temperatures, increased drought, and a growing population, water availability is increasingly scarce. I’ve done enough research to know that water conservation efforts could prove to be sufficient if the world was willing to buy in, but humans seem to prove otherwise. I worry that as mother nature makes water scarcity more and more of an issue we will turn water into a commodity and the people at the bottom will obviously suffer.

Natalie McCaffery

This is just one of the many "reports on climate change" that I've read through, and they all state the same science of 2 degree shifts in temperature leading to exponential changes over time and drastic deviation from the Earth's natural cycles, yet we keep seeing these reports, and they're not changing. I would like to look into more of the purpose behind producing these kinds of documents, or rather ask, "how much prodding and articulation do policy makers need to actually implement any change?" These grim reports don't actually imply that there is anything we are on track to do in order to greatly lessen the effects of GCC, however they are more a drop in the bucket when it comes to producing quantitative awareness of our conditions.

Cal Christianson

A part of the paper that I found to be sneakily important is the idea that climate change will gave a profoundly negative effect on infrastructure. The paper specifically points to infrastructure in coastal areas in north Africa as being vulnerable. As we have studied, infrastructure is important for economic development. For wealthy countries, rising sea levels are also a danger to coastal areas. But wealthy countries have the ability to adapt by creating artificial barriers and other technological solutions to this problem. These north African countries don’t have this luxury. Many were cursed with poor infrastructure as a result of decades of colonial rule. These nations also don’t necessarily have the capital necessary to make these adaptations. And perhaps most importantly, the governments in some of these countries are less than stable. As a result, the average citizen in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt will face the consequences of rising sea levels head on. This will be especially devastating given the population density in these coastal areas. Given the inhospitable terrain of the Sahara desert, it is unlikely that many people will be willing to migrate away from the south. The only option is to deal with the consequences and rely upon ingenuity to create solutions and new economic opportunities. It will be interesting to see whether these North African nations move to adapt to a changing environment by investing in solar power generation and aquaculture.

Chadrack Bantange

I often heard people talking about climate and how it can affect many aspects of human kind, but I never realized the magnitude of those consequences until I read this article. Climate change is a thing and just as one should fight for gender equality, environmental issues also deserve the same level attention. The most heartbreaking part about this calamity is that non polluting countries are more likely to suffer from this than the ones who pollute the most. The way climate change affect people in rich countries like the USA , Canada, France, etc is not similar to how people living in poor countries will be affected.

Given their wealth, rich countries are more likely to cope from this than the poor ones. Worst, as many people from the poor countries rely on agricultural products, for example, as a way of production, climate change has more effect on them and those living in highly industrialized regions around the world. In front of this, poor countries not only suffer the most from those externalities, but they also face a dilemma: should we boost technology to promote economy growth and alleviate people from poverty or should we cut down our use of technology to lessen the effects of climate change on our population? Either way, economic development is needed to alleviate people from poverty but the big question is: how should we [low income countries]do it?

vic ndhlovu

I must begin by saying this article was rather depressing, but at the same time eye-opening and insightful. I have heard and read about climate change and development time and again, but have never seen or thought of the direct link between the two. It was interesting to see the economic effects of climate change and how these effects are more profound on those that are already poor. It is disheartening that the lion’s share of activity contribution to climate change is attributed to a tiny percent of the population (large MNCs etc). It is also striking how regions with fewer industries are hit harder by climate change. I would have liked to see infographics for North American too as the US has the most MNCs and is probably the highest CO2 emitter historically (last few centuries). Emitting the continent with the highest GDP per capita may cause these issues not to strike home for that region, but at the same time could be effective if intended to highlight their impact on the rest of the world

Renan Silva

I found the article to be extremely effective at emphasizing the urgency of climate change. It details the consequences of climate change that are currently happening, and its effects on biomes and society. The paper’s focus of climate change’s impact on development was very interesting. It is common to see the effects that take place on the environment getting talked about, but it was the first time I came across its effects on poverty and social development. The graphics also really stood out to me. The pictures comparing the current climate with the projected future are very alarming, with extreme changes from blue to yellow/orange.

The World Bank group does a great job at showing the tremendous consequences climate change has caused and will cause in the future. Though I think this material should persuade anyone who is against climate change regulations, I wish it would have touched on and counter argued the opposition’s main argument: its impact on the economy. One way the article could have gone about it would be by showing through graphs the predicted decline in the economy short-term, but the rise it would take long-term. The economic loss would then be supported by the consequences climate change will cause, which are present in this paper.

Overall, this article very effectively transmitted how alarming the situation is, and hopefully politicians around the world take valuable output from it.

Patrick Rooney

Nowadays, it is common to see news headlines or posts on social media that attempt to illustrate the devastating impacts of climate change. Personally, when I see those quick attention-grabbing headlines I acknowledge the problem, but with little understanding of what is going on. This report has been very eye-opening to me regarding being able to understand the full scope of the problems the world faces with climate change. What stands out to me, is that climate change disproportionately affects those in poverty and those living in low-income countries. This is because of how climate variability and severe weather are going to affect agriculture production as well as access to clean water. I conducted my Econometrics project on how rainfall affected violence in low-income countries. The data we had was sparse, but we did find that because of unpredictability of income, food, and water that comes from low rainfall, violence did increase. I would be very interested to conduct the same study 20 years into the future and see how climate change has affected violence throughout low-income countries. I would also be interested if climate change spurs violence between countries, as leaders try to fight for or protect natural resources. Other concerns that I have never thought of that this report touches upon, includes new diseases and lack of development in infrastructure due to the unbearable working conditions outside. The question of climate change is layered and will have so many detrimental effects that are reported but also unreported. Low-income countries and those in poverty do not have the luxury to worry about climate change as they need to focus on their next meal, but those people are going to be the most affected. It is up to advanced economies and high-income countries to take initiate and address this problem before it’s too late, otherwise many undeserving people will have their lives adversely changed.

Andrew Arnold

Last year, in Professor Greer's class as well as 255, we worked a lot with the IPCC's studies and reports. These reports to me were always something that felt under-recognized by the general public. Everyone always talks about the climate "debate," but after reading an IPCC report and actually looking at the science, I am not sure how someone could realistically still call it a debate. This is where I as a Journalism major get frustrated with certain news issues because as reporters, we are supposed to be unbiased and to show "both sides." But with some issues, like this one, there is not other side. There is the side of science and the side of misinformation. I frustrates me to no end seeing news networks present "both sides" in order to perpetuate debate and ensure no progress is actually made. Then you read an article like this one that lays out the actual impacts of our inability to agree on concrete science. I think food is something we as not impoverished Americans kind of take for granted where food comes from. With climate change, that sentiment will change rapidly because of how the weather and climate of different regions will be changing. It always frustrates me to read stuff like this because all the answers are right there grounded in the science, and we still refuse to take the action needed. It also feels like an issue that is so big that I don't feel like I can even make an impact myself, which builds this feeling of helplessness. It is just really tough to see, and I hope going forward decision makers will act more rashly and will use their "Econ 101."

Emily Ingram

I share a lot of the same sentiments as everyone else in that although this article did a good job laying out the evidence and predictions that come with lack of progress towards climate change around the globe, it still is sad to see that we are not achieving our long-term goals when it comes to climate change.

The part of the paper that stood out to me was the discussion of who was most impacted. The evidence that those in poverty and low-income areas are the most affected by climate change speaks volumes of the lack of accessibility to sustainability. If decision makers could address this issue instead of constantly hammering on the negative impacts, some progress might actually come to fruition.

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