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The cost of doing nothing

Written By: - Date published: 11:00 am, September 28th, 2012 - 34 comments
Categories: climate change, disaster, ETS, national - Tags: ,

The early effects of climate change are now here, and in some respects the situation is deteriorating more rapidly than the models predict. We’re already facing the costs. But because of our stupid, short sighted political systems, we don’t have the capacity to respond to a threat that seems still to be years away. We are blocked by the short term costs of action, and ignore the much longer costs of doing nothing. Environmental concerns aside, even in purely economic terms, it makes no sense.

I’ve written on this before, but yet another report reminds us of our collective folly:

Climate change already killing millions – report

Climate change and carbon-based air pollution kills an estimated 5 million people a year, and already costs the world US$1.2 trillion annually, according to a new report.

Commissioned by the Climate Vulnerable Forum, a coalition of 20 countries, Climate Vulnerability Monitor: A Guide To The Cold Calculus Of A Hot Planet says by 2030, the cost of climate change will rise to 3.2 percent of world GDP and deaths will top 6 million – with developing countries taking most of the brunt.

The report said the cost of combating climate change – around 0.5 percent of global GDP – was dwarfed by the costs of doing nothing.

“A combined climate-carbon crisis is estimated to claim 100 million lives between now and the end of the next decade.” More than 90 percent of the deaths will occur in developing countries, which also face sacrificing 5 to 10 percent of their economies.

“One degree Celsius rise in temperature is associated with 10 percent productivity loss in farming,” Bangladesh’s prime minister Sheikh Hasina told Reuters. …

More confirmation of the 2006 Stern Report (also e.g. here, here). From one summary :

– The cost of reducing emissions could be limited to around 1% of global GDP;
– Unabated climate change could cost the world at least 5% of GDP each year; if more dramatic predictions come to pass, the cost could be more than 20% of GDP.

We need to face up to the short term costs, or the long term costs are much greater. Treasury understood it in 2008. Some of our smarter business people understand it. But National’s response has been to bury their heads even deeper in the sand, and further delay the introduction of the ETS. That we let them get away with it is a form of collective madness.

34 comments on “The cost of doing nothing ”

  1. Jokerman 1

    i imagine a steady increase in frequency and quantities of climate and economic refugees
    very sad
    if only the ” deniers” would pay attention to the real-time increase in frequency of extreme weather events occurring. (maybe they have not lived long enough with their eyes wide open yet)

    • ianmac 1.1

      I think everyone notices the increase of extreme weather events but the Deniers Deny that they are caused by Human action. (Just acts of their gods I suppose.)

    • Steve Wrathall 1.2

      You’re right. These “climate refugees” are in your imagination.

      Have you found out yet the identity of these mystery isles that Al Gore claims were “evacuated to NZ” in his 2006 Sci-fi Horror movie?

      “Better models are needed before exceptional events can be reliably linked to global warming…
      Especially in poor countries, the losses arising from extreme weather have often as much to do with poverty, poor health and government corruption as with a change in climate. ”
      Nature Editorial -19 September 2012

      • McFlock 1.2.1

        Judas goats normally don’t need to work so hard, Steve.
        The herd is beginning to sense that the big shed they’re being led into has some seriously disturbing odours coming from it… 

      • Georgecom 1.2.2

        Steve, hows the court case against NIWA going?

        Have costs been awarded yet?

      • Murray Olsen 1.2.3

        So Steve, what you’re saying is that without poverty, poor health and government corruption, the problems facing poor countries could be ameliorated by up to 50%? In other words, climate change is at least 50% of a serious problem. Or is it that you just don’t have much idea what you’re saying at all?

  2. Dr Terry 2

    Denyers think only, and selfishly, of themselves. “I’m alright Jack”. To hell with their severely threatened descendants.

  3. muzza 3

    What part of Geo-engineering IS happening, do people not understand?

    – The chem trail deniers seem to think its not…




    Another question might be – What makes anyone assume TPTB want any of the “useless feeders” here anyway?

  4. Steve Wrathall 4

    So a “Climate Vulnerable Forum” does a report which declares that they are vulnerable to climate. Phew, thank goodness for that! Be pretty embarassing is it didn’t , eh?

    • mike e 4.1

      Steve rattle last time you were claiming there was drought in isolated places around the world 2/3 of the worlds food production areas are in drought already 70% of Australia is in drought Now and the summer season hasn’t arrived!
      The Pacific ocean is rising faster than any other ocean your own figures!
      then you lied about the Arctic Ice melt your own links proved you wrong!
      It was the Arctic sea that had melted for the first time in six thousand years previously 150,000 years ago!
      You called those scientists liars yet your Data proved them right ,they were right in saying they expected the Arctic sea ice to melt before 2016!You just chose a part of the headline with out reading the story!
      You have found some tiny little publisher who’s made claims with no relevant data or hard science to prove their theory!
      Even the oil companies are saying that global warming is happening!
      Ostrich syndrome is what you and your deniers are suffering from!

      • mike e 4.1.1

        Silly wally by the way Nor Easterly winds predominate so far this year!
        That is the sign that la nina is on the rise this year which will mean flip flop weather pattern leaving NZ agriculture sector in drought!
        You want to put some money where your mouth is but first take your foot out!

        • Jokerman

          and those N.E are freakin annoying to be out in where i live; however, i believe i have selected one of the most “sheltered” provinces for the future (unless i go back to “school” again)
          river innundation is in the historical record (but i am a wee way from those)
          Why people place the convenience or aesthetic “pleasantness” (read Pleasantville) of living along the bottom of a river valley, over prudence, is beyond me; U.K these recent years, case in point.

      • Steve Wrathall 4.1.2

        “70% of Australia is in drought “!!!!
        This is “change”??

      • Steve Wrathall 4.1.3

        “It was the Arctic sea that had melted for the first time in six thousand years previously 150,000 years ago!”
        So is this incoherent sentence claiming that the Arctic last melted as much as today 6000 or 150,000 years ago?
        Whichever it is, to make such claims you would have to have annual ice melt minima data for the last 150,000 years and have NO years with less ice than 2012. No years during the [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eemian_Stage] Eemian Interglacial [/url] from 130,000 to 114,000 y.b.p. when “when forests reached as far north as North Cape (which is now tundra) in northern Norway”? No years during the Bronze, Roman or Mediaeval warm periods?
        You do not have such data. No one does. Like most claims that warmist pluck out of thin air, it doesn’t even withstand the mildest scrutiny

        • Kotahi Tāne Huna

          You really don’t have the faintest clue, do you Wrathall?

          Here’s a new and exciting word to add to your lexicon: proxy.

        • mike e

          The thin air bit is right you idiot that is the problem more CO2 than any time in history .
          The rest of your rant is just fantasy you’ve made up !
          99% of Scientists Agree with the science behind Global warming the other 1% come from Religious right wing Neanderthals faith based fwits like your self every bit of evidence you’ve put forward has been proven wrong mainly with your own Data !
          F off to KB WO where ever they will put you on latent Smiths show and pretend your some sort of expert!

  5. “The point is not that the events will not occur, but that the kinds preparations and precautions that a democratic government can take before the risk becomes so imminent that everyone recognises it, are so limited as to be a waste of time or worse”
    Stephen Franks 2003

  6. RedBaron 6

    Yep if that’s the Stern report I read it talks about the “insurance” side of global warming. If we leave it too late then we simply won’t have the resources etc to turn the tide – so to speak. This was the report, I think, that had a section on how a 5 degree temperature change would give us a pliocene climate – alligator filled swamps at the poles.

    The mental image of Gerry Brownlee, Nick Smith & all, up to their necks in this, really tempted me to go home and turn everything on..

    • Steve Wrathall 6.1

      “Insurance” only makes sense if the premiums are lower than the expected loss. Massive costs on us today make little sense in return for minute mitigations of speculative losses generations in the future. Especially as future generations will be much richer than us and much more able to adapt to changes, climate or otherwise, if and when they occur.

  7. Nick k 7

    We don’t have the capacity because we emit 0.02 of all emissions. We can do nothing to prevent any perceived warming.

  8. jaymam 8

    The Climate Vulnerable Forum says: “The sky is falling. Give us money!”


    “Geographer Associate Professor Paul Kench has measured 27 islands where local sea levels have risen 120mm – an average of 2mm a year – over the past 60 years, and found that just four had diminished in size.”

    • Kotahi Tāne Huna 8.1

      Hard to see how you’re making the connection there. The CVF isn’t the one making claims about sea level rise. I have a question: did you have trouble understanding what they actually did say, or did you just go into blind moron mode straight off the line?

    • mike e 8.2

      Jayman you only told the part of the story that suited your agenda so you are full of IT.
      The other half of the story is that scientists believe the rate of rise is increasing and these islands may not cope with these rises!
      27 Islands is a very small portion of the 1,000nds of Islands in the pacific.
      My wife’s Island is in trouble its near the equator and was on TV the other day it is diminishing rapidly!

  9. Interesting subject and much needs to be debated that isn’t. Such as the Military industrial development of weather modification weapons of mass destruction.

    • Kotahi Tāne Huna 9.1

      HAARP now is it? Your credibility is so shiny and glittering. What a star!

      • travellerev 9.1.1

        The Contrarian and te Reo Pukake both left a comment on my blog recently: “mooooooooo mooooooooo and moooooo”was the extend of both their comments. Of the three trolls you are the only one who hasn’t.

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