Your Money or Your Life Isn’t An Economic Problem — The Cost of a Livable Climate
A robber pushes a gun into Jack Benny’s ribs.
“Your money or your life?!” demands the gunman.
There’s a pause. The gunman looks impatient.
“I’m thinking…” says Benny.
It’s an old joke and one that accurately reflect the absurdity of one of the most common arguments to do nothing about our climate crisis. Fixing the problem, we are told, is too expensive.
Yeah, we are being told this by “serious, intelligent” people — like Kinsey & Company. (See The net-zero transition: What it would cost, what it could bring) Yes. We are supposed to seriously consider that preventing the end of human civilization is too expensive and maybe we can’t afford to do it. This joke is actually considered a serious policy idea. Worse, doing nothing has been and continues to be the de facto policy of the United States and of most of the world.
Universal death is, strangely, considered pragmatic. We are talking about money, after all.
Aside from the fact that the calculations of cost are absurd — for example, they don’t take into account the cost of dealing with ever-deadlier killer storms, wildfires and worse, or the unnecessary avoidable massive loss of human lives — maybe cost isn’t the biggest problem with turning the Earth into an inhospitable hell-hole.
This reminds me of the earlier absurd argument — that the climate crisis isn’t caused by human activity. Besides being false, this argument is irrelevant. If you are threatened by extinction, do you choose to let it happen because it’s not your fault? How incredibly stupid is THAT?!
Please don’t treat the “we can’t afford to save civilization” idea seriously. It’s ridiculous. And even the well-educated people promoting it are foolish at best. Taking them seriously is dangerous.
We have two sensible choices: ignore them and keep the spotlight on the actual crisis or ridicule the idea BECAUSE it’s ridiculous. I personally think the former is the better approach. Opposing something — even something ridiculous — gives the ridiculous and dangerous idea more attention and recognition. We need to move past these dangerous distractions.
The 15,000 climate scientists — the people who actually know what they’re talking about — have warned us that we have less than 10 years before we get caught in an irreversible cycle of an ever worsening climate; a feedback loop that means unparalleled suffering for our grandchildren and any generation that may survive beyond them.
That’s the reality. We need to demand serious and immediate action. Yes, our voices have been ignored. We need to keep going, be unrelenting. Our voices and the ever-worsening storms and wildfires will, ultimately, make our words inescapable. Those responsible for inaction will have nowhere to hide.
I only hope our time doesn’t run out. At best, it’s going to be close.