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travisr14
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Climate Change Risks and Policies: An Overview Michael A. Toman Toman’s paper proposes six steps to follow when making decisions about climate policy. Toman’s first step is to think comprehensively about the risks. In my opinion, it is better to stay on the safe side of risk assessment, because it is better to be prepared for something that may never happen than to have to face it without preparation. There is obviously a lot of uncertainty about the extent and magnitude of future climate change effects and climate change may not cost as much as we might think due to technological advances which makes it difficult to put a numerical value on the costs associated with the risks. In addition to being unable to estimate the potential costs in a risk assessment of climate change, it is challenging to estimate the cost of changing systems since future costs and benefits will be different than they are today. I assume that would probably save money in the long run by being prepared for the worst rather than trying to adapt in the moment. Ideally, we would invest not in adapting to a changing climate, but in preventing climate change in the first place. The problem is since it is a global issue it requires global participation. It is no countries’ personal self-interest to bear the weight of the costs associated with implementing new climate policy, and as a result, unless there is some sort of agreement we will do nothing. Although his paper does not go into detail about the economic models these steps are based on, they can be inferred from his argument and are important for understanding the reasons and significance for each step of thinking about climate change risks and their application in international policy and action. As we discussed in class, a Cost Benefit Analysis is very useful for establishing the cost of something and seeing how it fluctuates with different policies. With this model, what we are really measuring and trying to maximize is GDP, which is impacted greatly by the state of the environment and human health. If we do nothing, the cost is actually higher than implementing new policies because the cost will be the outcome of future climate change and the risk it poses to the environment and human health. Public health directly affects productivity, which in turn impacts GDP. However, we need to think beyond GDP, because indirect use values often do not get factored in. A perfect example is the Production Possibilities Frontier we discussed in class comparing output of Timber versus Hiking. As climate change provides and external force pushing the graph inwards, the level of timber output will remain the same since it provides direct economical value, while the decrease in Hiking value or opportunities will not be considered since it is harder to measure. We need to consider the Total Economic Value, since most effects will be non-market effects. Toman says that we must think about the climate change problem and possible solutions in a global context. He acknowledges some of the disagreements that may arise between developing and developed countries, but he fails to give any commentary on possible solutions to these disagreements between developing and developed nations. What is a way to reconcile these two types of nations? Who is right and who is wrong? Which argument is stronger: that developed nations need to do more since they are responsible for past pollutions, or that developing nations need to do more since they will be adding the greatest number of pollutants as they continue to develop? What makes sense to me is for developed nations to help implement new technologies and policies in developing countries’ infrastructure. - Travis, Smith, Flores, Retzloff
Toggle Commented Mar 21, 2014 on Paper for Thursday at Jolly Green General
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Mar 21, 2014