Climate change is big news and has many people concerned throughout the world. Even many businesses have begun to takes steps to be more environmentally sensitive and to take account of potential climate change in their plans.
In this exclusive video for Bold Business, Oren Cass, Fellow at the Manhattan Institute, shares his thoughts and conclusions about climate change. While he agrees that it is certainly a good thing for business to take good stewardship of the environment into account, he also offers a few cautionary words. He suggests that sometimes concerns about climate change are based upon errors and doubtful conclusions.
Cass is concerned that people tend to confuse their timelines and that their numbers are not always reflective of the reality that we find around us.
For instance, many people who are concerned about climate change are not considering that the effects, if they do occur as predicted by some, are hundreds of years away. That’s a long time. And those effects will come on gradually.
Yet, many of the people who are worried seem to want to act as if change is just a few years away, in fact preparing for the event long before it is at all necessary.
It is understandable, because most of us operate in time frames that are based upon weekly and monthly payments and decisions. We rarely think in terms of decades or centuries. And climate change won’t be having an effect in a few years, it is hundreds of years from now.
The World Will be Different in One-Hundred Years
Cass points out that if the climate changed to what is forecast right now, it would be potentially severe. But if you realize that hundreds of years from now, we will have different technologies and more wealth, it will be much easier to manage and may be dealt with much more easily.
One thing is a certainty, we will be incalculably wealthier, and that provides greater flexibility in finding solutions to all kinds of problems. As the world is wealthier, people will have more options and solutions available. We will have much better and more advanced technology. We will have made many advances in medicine. With better technology and health, we will be better able to respond to emergencies and natural disasters.
Another effect of increased wealth that we will have as societies in the future, is that costs which are projected now and appear to loom large and imposing, are in fact much smaller than they seem when adjusted forward into the future. Some people say that climate change may cost $20 trillion per year in 2100. In today’s dollars, that’s a huge sum. By future estimates of economic growth models, that is just 4% of GDP in 2100, a much more manageable number.
Ed Kopko, CEO of Bold Business adds, that this process of problem and solution is nothing new. As a society, we have been faced with many problems in the past that are not that different from climate change, for example the worldwide food shortage that was projected under the Malthusian economic model. Many people at the time believed that human population would increase beyond our ability to grow food and widespread starvation would result.
But, widespread starvation did not occur. Instead an agricultural revolution resulted in more food and higher quality food, available to more people than ever before. Private businesses, farmers, cattlemen, fishermen, processing and transportation all had a hand in creating a bounty of sustenance across the globe.
If the past is any guide to the future, Cass may be quite accurate in predicting that perhaps the calm and rational approach to climate change is not to react irrationally today, but to study and plan for the future. With investment and adaptation, we will make it through it just fine.