The climate talks in Paris are negotiating the usual quagmire: how much will rich countries (that have disproportionately created current carbon levels) pay poorer countries so that they can retool to smarter technologies, cut emissions and adapt to some of the effects of climate change. Lest this be mistaken for charity, the money is a critical, self-interested investment richer countries must make if our world is to be sustained. See: The $100 billion question hanging over UN climate talks.
Six years ago, industrial nations committed $100 billion (chump change) by 2020. Last year an estimated $62 billion had been collected. A report from the London School of Economics in March said at least $400 billion is needed annually if global warming is to be halted. As with all renovation budgets, this forecast too is likely optimistic. But before naysayers say the cost is impossible, we should remind that to date the debt bubble and crash in 2008 have cost America alone an estimated $22 trillion and counting. See: The cost of the crisis. And that money was all mostly wasted bailing out bankers and temporarily re-inflating asset bubbles, rather than life-sustaining long-term investments in improving infrastructure, smarter systems and technologies. The point is that investment for our future can and must be afforded since the downside of inaction is the end of life as we know it. It’s a matter of realizing our priorities.
The upside is endless. Making cities green is not only healthier but will cut trillions in current expenditures. A recent report by the New Climate Economy, found that if cities around the world implemented certain carbon-reducing strategies — including making buildings more efficient and investing in public transportation — they could save a combined total of $17 trillion by 2050. See: Cities could save $17 trillion just by reducing their green house gas emissions. And then there are the millions of productive jobs worldwide that will come from retooling the planet.
Meltdown the science behind climate change. Here is a direct video link.