It’s insurance against extremes

By From page A8 | August 01, 2014

We certainly could debate the logic and data interpretation in Mikal Saltveit’s July 25 letter to The Enterprise.

But for the sake of discussion, let’s assume he is right. Let’s assume climate change models are mostly inaccurate and there is only small possibility that continuing business as usual will lead us into centuries of a world incapable of supporting civilization as we know it.

Similarly, there is very little chance my house will catch fire this year or that I will be in an auto accident or have a major health issue. Small chance. But I take out insurance anyway, because the alternative is so negative.

Same with climate change. Taking action now to move away from fossil fuels is like taking out an insurance policy. It’s a way to manage the risk of potentially extreme circumstances. And I can’t wait until I see smoke rising before I take out that policy.

A carbon fee with revenues returned to households could even be a no-cost insurance policy. A recent study by Regional Economic Models Inc. shows that, if structured correctly, such a plan actually would stimulate the economy, adding millions of jobs and billions to the Gross Domestic Product, and save thousands from premature death while reducing CO2 emissions by 32 percent. All this in only 10 years.

James Hanson, the nation’s top climatologist, says it is possible planet Earth could go the way of Venus, which at one time also had water and potential for life. If there is even a 0.001 percent chance of that happening, wouldn’t we be smart to stop arguing about the odds and take out an insurance policy?

Elisabeth Robbins


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