AP writer Samantha Young describes the results of a new report commissioned by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Climate Action Team that puts a price tag on all sorts of climate change-related damage set to befall California in the decades ahead.
But as you may have guessed from a report commissioned by the leader of state who presided over the enactment of the world’s first “comprehensive program of regulatory and market mechanisms to achieve real, quantifiable, cost-effective reductions of greenhouse gases,” the price is high (it better be, or what was the point?). And, as with all things global warming, folks are quick to point out that it is probably going to be even worse than it is made out to be.
But what is not pointed out is that California’s emissions reduction program will do nothing to mitigate the impact of the coming climate.
The report puts the cost of climate change to the state’s economy at somewhere between $2.5 and $15 billion per year by 2050. Projected property damage from sea level rise could push the costs even higher. And some experts think that the final costs will be even higher still.
This must be comforting news for the folks who are toiling away at implementing California bill AB32 which requires the state to reduce its greenhouse gas levels to 1990 values by the year 2020. At least they can rest assured that their hard work will pay off in monetary savings to the state of California as the climate changes projected to cause such damages will largely be averted. This sentiment is reflected in the comments of Linda Adams, secretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency, “It will cost significantly less to combat climate change than it will to maintain a business-as-usual approach,” Adams said.
Sadly, Ms. Adams couldn’t be farther from the truth. As I have detailed in a previous MasterResource article, there is nothing that California can do to change the future course of climate one iota aside from inventing a new, safe, energy source that is adopted worldwide. Lacking that, California can reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to zero by the year 2010 and it will have no impact on the future climate of the state—although I imagine that it would have interesting impacts of the economy.
Naïve statements as to the effectiveness of carbon dioxide emissions restrictions to alter the future course of climate perhaps serve to spur on action or make people feel better about what they or their governments are doing in the short run. But over the long term, California is going to get the climate that it gets (and damages still are going to occur, as they always have) and at some point, those in charge are going to have to start explaining what went wrong with their plan—and let’s hope, for the sake of current and future Californians, that the explanation will only involve the climate, and not the economy.