We can’t wait: The cost of delaying action to stem climate change

We can’t wait: The cost of delaying action to stem climate change

From severe storms to sea level rise, the United States is already experiencing the impacts of climate change, prompting more policymakers to realize the urgent need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But some are still claiming uncertainty about the underlying science of climate change, saying it would be better to wait for more data, analysis and time to act. Many of these climate skeptics ground their arguments in pseudo-science, contradicting the fact that at this point there is no doubt that climate change is real, that it is being caused by our activities, and that it is harming the planet and threatening our livelihoods.

But we do face significant uncertainty about the timing, magnitude, and full consequences of the enormously complex phenomenon of climate change. That uncertainty, however, is an argument for doing more and doing it sooner, not for delaying action further.

Acting now to put in place policies that reduce carbon emissions is like taking out an insurance policy — you pay less today to insure against the possibility of incurring larger costs in the future, either in terms of the increasing expense of dealing with climate change or in terms of even larger, less anticipated tail risks associated with climate change.

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