The truth is comparatively boring: According to the United Nations climate science panel’s latest major report, if we do absolutely nothing to stop climate change, the impact will be the equivalent to a reduction in our incomes of between 0.2 percent and 2 percent five decades from now.
Yet by the 2070s, personal incomes will be some 300 percent to 500 percent higher than they are today.
Far from the “end of the world,” the impact of warming is what we’d expect from roughly a single economic recession taking place over the next half-century.
Many of us question how this could be true when we are constantly told that extreme weather is wreaking ever-greater devastation. In fact, research shows that extreme weather is having a rather minimal economic effect.
Since 1990, the cost associated with extreme weather worldwide has actually declined, to 0.25 percent of the global gross domestic product, from 0.30 percent.
Green fretting about Armageddon is nothing new, of course. In the 1960s, mainstream environmentalists worried that the world was running out of food.
In the 1980s, acid rain was going to destroy the planet’s forests. There were good reasons for concern, but a panicked response led to a poor, overly expensive response.
We need to get smarter. Climate change is a problem but not the end of the world. The United States now has little or no federal climate policy, which is inexcusable.
But almost every other nation is making climate proclamations that would impose huge costs for rather paltry gains.
This approach has failed to deliver progress against climate change for decades. We should instead embrace ingenuity and innovation and spend far more on green-energy research and development.
If we push the price of green energy below fossil fuels through innovation, everyone will switch.
If Ocasio-Cortez had stuck to the facts, she would have said: “The world is going to see costs worth about 1 percent of GDP in 50 years if we don’t address climate change — and your biggest issue is how to pay for it?”
Well, yes: We need to make sure our solution doesn’t cost more than the problem. If we look at the science and stop believing the end of the world is nigh, our decisions will be much smarter.