Among the many, many ways the United States has failed in its discussion of climate change is the idea that all the costs are on one side of the equation. Putting a higher price on carbon is somehow understood as all cost and no benefit.
On the other hand, ruining Earth’s climate is somehow understood as all benefit and no cost. The science is no longer in dispute, but the economics are certainly a stalled hurricane of stupid here.
Aside from destroyed ecosystems and their species, there are huge concrete economic costs to climate change. Right now. And continuously rising. There are many ways to calculate these costs, but to put some kind of number on them, let’s start with $250 billion. Every year. In just the United States.
Oh. You might not have known that. If Congress were considering a $250 billion tax hike on you, you can be sure you would hear about it. But climate you don’t hear about. It is just there, ticking away like a speeding utility meter, or a time bomb. You end up paying one way or another. Bigly.
They say carbon dioxide is colorless and odorless. They should add soundless, based on the way it is reported. When the ground shakes and buildings are destroyed, journalists report on the fault line. When a climate-intensified storm destroys things? It’s accompanied by a biblical infestation of media crickets, telling you nothing about the role of climate.
How did our politics get so broken? Part of it comes from a broken information system. The Founders went on and on about how a democracy can’t function properly without a vibrant press, but when the media can’t be bothered to put crucial information out there in a way that communicates the, um, crucial part, expect to be inundated instead with distraction, disinformation, a living room full of floodwater, and, eventually, the bills.