Sunday, July 15, 2007

Yes, Averting a Climate Crisis Will Cost Money. How Much More Will Inaction Cost?

From "Louisiana’s Wetlands: A Lesson in Nature Appreciation," by John Tibbetts:
From 2000 through 2003, the Corps of Engineers and the state of Louisiana collaborated on a feasibility study for a $17-billion coastal restoration plan lasting 30 years. Yet this study, based on Coast 2050, also seemed far too expensive at the time. “It never went up to Congress because it exceeded what potentially could be funded,” says [US Geological Survey wetlands scientist Greg] Steyer. “We were asked to focus it on more of the near term, over ten years, addressing what are the critical projects that could be done.”
From today's Washington Post article on climate change legislation:
"I sincerely doubt that the American people are willing to pay what this is really going to cost them," John D. Dingell (D-Mich.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said in a recent C-SPAN interview.
People often ask me, "If the science on global warming is really so solid and the problem is really so menacing, wouldn't our government have taken action by now?" My answer is that we ignore critical threats all the time.

Mike Tidwell published his book, "Bayou Farewell: The Rich Life and Tragic Death of Louisiana's Cajun Coast," a full two and a half years before Hurricane Katrina hit. We knew New Orleans would be destroyed, yet as Steyer's above quote indicates, we decided not to spend the money to protect it.

We wouldn't spend $17 billion to restore Lousiana's wetlands to soften the blow of incoming hurricanes. Yet if Louisiana's wetlands and barrier islands had stood at their original (pre-Army Corps of Engineers-induced erosion) levels, it could've cut five to nine feet off Katrina's storm surge. Instead, we're paying $200 million to rebuild the Gulf Coast.

If we won't pay for renewable energy or carbon-cutting technologies, how much more will we have to pay to mitigate the effects of global warming?

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