Climate Change “Adaptations” Will Cost Billions. But We Need to Fight Climate Change, Not Live With It

fight climate change

Photo by Burt Perkins of Cherokee Street.

A question for your Sunday morning as you keep an eye on those tropical weather maps and world-record temperatures:

Should America’s taxpayers invest in finding cures for Ebola, West Nile virus, cancer and other deadly diseases — or just put that money into building more cemeteries and crematoriums?

The answer is obvious, right? Invest in long-term survival against existential threats rather than making accommodations for ultimate defeat.

Yet when it comes to climate change, Louisiana and most other red states are choosing the second option. They are seeking hundreds of billions of your tax dollars for “adaptations” to address current impacts such as sunny-day flooding, higher more destructive storm surge from bigger hurricanes, and more frequent flooding from ever-increasing record thunderstorms. But they remain opposed to addressing the reason those calamities are happening in the first place: global warming caused primarily by human-produced greenhouse gases.

Indeed, “adaptation” has become all the rage among states where bashing/denying climate science remains a requirement for political status. Google “billions for climate adaptation” and you’ll get about 37 million returns in less than a second. States and cities are looking for money to build seawalls and levees, elevate streets and homes, harden critical industries and military bases — even move entire communities.

Many requests are from coastal states consistently returning politicians to Congress who oppose the tough regulations that climate scientists tell us are urgently needed to reduce current impacts and prevent even worse in the decades ahead.

Some of those opponents say we should wait to see if the climate forecasts come true because the costs to economies still wedded to carbon-based fuels would be too high — and might be wasted if the worst doesn’t happen. Others insist that we pin our hopes on some future technological breakthroughs, such as carbon storage, cloud seeding or other dreams even as we allow emissions to continue at current levels.

But imagine what a banker would tell a potential customer seeking a 30-year mortgage on a property that might be under water in 20 years. Or what an insurance company would tell a homeowner or business seeking coverage in a community that floods on a regular basis. In fact, the nation’s underwriters have already moved climate change to the top of their risk factors and the finance industry is close behind.

This isn’t to say we shouldn’t embark on adaptations right away; the models show the next few decades will be filled with more extreme events so any money we spend now will save even more in the years ahead. Indeed, Louisiana’s 50-year, $92 billion Coastal Master Plan, arguably is the world’s most advanced, science-based climate adaptation plan, and is urgently needed.

Read the rest of the article at The Times-Picayune.