Why the Wafflers Are Wrong: Addressing Climate Change Is Urgent—and a Bargain

Why the Wafflers Are Wrong: Addressing Climate Change Is Urgent—and a Bargain

John Holdren
26 October 2017
4:30 pm – 5:45 pm

Why the Wafflers Are Wrong: Addressing Climate Change Is Urgent—and a Bargain

In 2017, more than 80 percent of the world’s energy supply continues to come from burning coal, oil and natural gas, with complete release of the resulting carbon dioxide. Among defenders of this status quo, denial that the release of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases by human activities is changing the global climate has largely been superseded by waffling – assertions that it’s unclear how much of ongoing climate change is due to human influences; that the damage to human well-being from climate change is, in any case, modest and growing slowly, thus easily countered in a world steadily getting richer; and/or that measures to sharply reduce the emissions of CO2 and other anthropogenic greenhouse gases would cost too much, kill jobs and stifle economic growth (as President Trump suggested in announcing U.S. withdrawal from the Paris agreement). This talk will explain why the wafflers are wrong – how we know that emissions from human activities are responsible for essentially all of the rapid warming now being experienced; how the impacts are already worse than the wafflers contend; why those impacts are likely to worsen much further and faster than they think; and why investing in the increasingly cost-effective measures for avoiding the worst impacts of future climate change is a far better “deal” for society than suffering the consequences of inaction.