Re: [OPE-L] Costs of Climate Change

From: Jerry Levy (Gerald_A_Levy@MSN.COM)
Date: Tue Oct 24 2006 - 14:48:10 EDT

> Costs for whom?

Hi Jurriaan:

That's a good question.  While one can infer from the effects
differential impacts on classes, nations, and species (more
in the next para.) I think it would be very difficult to *quantify*
this.  How does one, for instance, calculate the loss incurred as a
result of the extinction of a species?

If we look at Table ES1 (p. 5 in the report) we can project
in the estimates of the consequence of a 2 degree change

o  health costs will rise, especially for those with lower income
in the areas where tropical diseases will spread;

o widespread hunger will especially affect lower income working
class and peasant families in the periphery;

o  ditto with water shortages and droughts;

(the previous two items, most likely,  imply increased state spending
on health care and increased lending by international monetary

o coastal communities will be devastated by the loss of arctic
ice -- although some will benefit through increasing real estate
values.  Arctic species (including my friends, the beluga whales)
will face extinction.

o  Species will be lost by the bleaching of coral; cultures will
change (e.g. dietary customs) and some industries will be
affected (e.g. pearl harvesting).

o  Some capitalists and landowners will gain (e.g. those selling
water); others will lose (e.g. because of  increasing costs for
some elements of constant circulating capital).

o  Some of the above will, most likely, result in a decreasing
real wage for workers in the advanced capitalist nations.

o  Government expenditures to deal with some of the above will
undoubtedly increase, but  how this will affect the absolute and
relative tax burden of different classes remains to be seen.

Putting _numbers_ on the above is, at the very least, highly
problematic.  How does one calculate, for instance, the loss
incurred as a result of  belugas becoming extinct?  Answering the
question "how much is a species worth?" is even more thorny
-- and arrogant and speciesist! -- than answering the age old
question "how much is a life worth?".

> The same argument is made for war costs, but every cost is
> balanced by an income.

Who makes up this 'balance sheet'?  This isn't merely an accounting
problem.  Why can't there be a net loss?

In solidarity, Jerry

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Tue Oct 31 2006 - 00:00:03 EST