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Climate Change: The Highest Interest Rate of All Time!

Climate change will be costly, whether you believe in it or not. Unfortunately for the United States, paying with interest over time is not helping.

As the Earth’s atmosphere heats up due to massive carbon dioxide emissions, the environment begins to contort. The increase in global temperatures results in rising sea levels and increased water vaporization, inflaming natural disasters like flooding, hurricanes, extreme heat, drought and wildfires. An enormous price tag comes with these disasters.  

Last year, the Biden Administration’s Office of Management and Budget announced that the “U.S. government could spend an additional $25 billion to $128 billion each year” in responding to climate change incidents. Wildfires and floods destroying land and infrastructure, injury insurance, subsidies and more.

Ideally, the U.S. government will seek to establish clean energy solutions in order to minimize the possibility of paying this daunting price. Recognizing this, President Biden attempted to increase the budget for climate change prevention spending last year but did not get very far.

What might shock you, or come as no surprise at all, is that it has been extremely difficult for representatives of the U.S. government to agree on how to go about fixing this consequential, expensive and time-sensitive issue. Climate change effects have a very particular nature — they get exponentially worse as time goes on. The prices they incur are no different. The longer it takes for politicians to decide on how, what and when to spend the money needed to combat damages, the larger the price tag gets.

In the opinion of someone who will live to see the days when these disasters become commonplace, it is only rational to pay sooner rather than later. 

According to a report published by the Executive Office of the President of the United States in 2014, “a delay that results in warming of 3° Celsius above pre-industrial levels, instead of 2°, could increase economic damages by approximately 0.9 percent of global output.” In today’s numbers, this is almost $242 billion for damages caused by delayed climate spending.

The report further clarifies that this price is not a one-time thing but an annual fee if negligence continues. To put it simply: “delaying is costly.” Again, the economically efficient option is self-evident, so much so that I probably don’t need to say it but will anyway: pay sooner rather than later!

Somewhat understandably, some conservative and older politicians are quite uncaring, considering that most of these damages lie beyond their years. They cannot seem to rationalize such a large climate spending budget for an issue that is “far” in the future.

This unfortunate situation leaves the younger generations to deal with the repercussions. At the end of the day, this issue is not so far in the future, and younger generations will begin to pay this price while still young. A lack of inaction is a shame, a stain of partisan deadlock and neglect. In order to protect all citizens under it, the government must invest in measures to protect America’s future livelihood.

We need progressive, conservative, and moderate voices, and the numerous choruses in between, to determine what measures to take. So let’s stop debating whether climate change is real and let’s get to addressing it in policy.

Above all else, can’t everyone agree that we should save a ton of money?

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the individual author.


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