According to most scientists, climate change is a real, present, and growing threat to life as we know it, requiring a large-scale, immediate response. According to many economists, climate change is a moderately important problem, and the best policy for dealing with it is a slow, gradual start, to avoid spending too much.
They can’t both be right.
In this book, CPR Member Scholar Frank Ackerman offers a refreshing look at the economics of climate change, explaining how the arbitrary assumptions of conventional theories get in the way of understanding this urgent problem. The benefits of climate protection are vital but priceless, and hence often devalued in economists’ cost-benefit calculations. Preparation for the most predictable outcomes of global warming is less important than protection against the growing risk of catastrophic change; massive investment in new, low carbon technologies and industries should be thought of as life insurance for the planet.
Ackerman makes an impassioned plea to construct a better economics, arguing that the solutions are affordable and the alternative is unthinkable. After all, if we can’t afford the future, what are we saving our money for?
“Frank Ackerman provides the ammunition that advocates of strong climate policy need to debunk the conclusion that stabilizing our future climate is ‘too expensive’.”
– Stephen H. Schneider, Stanford University
“This book is essential reading for anyone trying to understand the major economic debates around the major new long-term challenge of our times – global warming. Frank Ackerman has done us all a great service with this very accessible critical survey of the varied and complicated issues involved.”
– Jomo Kwame Sundaram, UN Assistant Secretary General for Economic Development
Can We Afford the Future? The Economics of a Warming World, published by Zed Books, 2009.