Economics of Climate Change

How does climate change affect our grandchildren – and all children – in the future?

Everyone is affected, adult and child. Are there any specific effects on children? Let’s look at this from the perspective of economic rationality, the prevalent mind set of our time.

The most important effect is that climate change is not only already happening and hurting people, but it and its consequences are getting worse as time passes and are likely to continue to get worse indefinitely. Our grandchildren will be victims of climate change to a much greater degree than we are but, being children, they cannot do anything about it now.

It is our obligation, as persons who have, to be frank about it, mostly lived reasonably well by ignoring carbon emissions, to do something for them. The case for that is that every reduction made in carbon emissions today reduces their consequences for centuries, possibly millennia.

The cumulative effects mean that there is a huge payoff. Not to do more now to fight climate change is to shift the costs forward on to the innocent. It is what economists call an inter-generational transfer where those of us around today as adults are the winners – we get the benefits of the goods whose production increases carbon emissions – while future generations, without present voice, bear the costs and are the losers.

Which defies logic and decency and is unforgivable. It is our duty to give voice on behalf of our grandchildren, and everybody’s grandchildren, and their children, and on and on.

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