Doing nothing is a luxury that humanity can no longer afford. Global warming has already begun to transform our planet, and it will continue to do so. It is going to cost us very dear.
Insurance companies were among the first to draw attention to the reality of climate change when they found themselves paying out increasing sums of money as a result of natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina, the European heat-wave of 2003, and flooding in Central
Europe and Asia. Experts have since attempted to give a global evaluation of the phenomenon. According to Nicholas Stern, an economist working for the British government, global warming will continue to cost approximately 5% of the world’s annual GDP in the coming years.
If we allow for a broader spectrum of risks and consequences, the damage estimates could rise to 20% of world GDP or higher. This is the equivalent of 5,000 billion US dollars, or the cost of the two World Wars plus the Wall Street Crash.
The measures we would need to put in place to halt global warming, according to Stern, would cost 10 to 20 times less—a massive saving! Despite the pressures of the current economic crisis, the investment is clearly worth making. Besides, the longer we put off doing something, the more radically we will have to act, and the more it will cost. According to the experts, we have about ten years to take action. After that, it will be very diffi cult to turn back.
It is not the existence of humanity that is threatened, but the way we live. Homo sapiens will probably survive, but as always it will be the poorest people on the planet, those already with barely the means to survive, who will be least able to deal with the crisis or change their way of life, and who will suffer most acutely. This is why the fight against global warming requires that we create new kinds of alliances, and why we will need to adopt measures such as technological cooperation and international emissions exchange mechanisms.