Roger Cohen (Letters, Herald, Jan. 23) has contributed his annual reminder that even some scientists deny humans are
causing climate change. In particular, he renewed his 2008 offer to bet $5,000 that 2017 will be cooler than 2007.
Unfortunately, he's not offering the right bet. He should be offering to bet his house - because he and his fellow
climate deniers are asking the rest of us to bet the farm" that they are right.
Of course, he wouldn't offer that bet - at least not without insurance. It's unlikely, however, any insurance company
would underwrite his proposal. The insurance industry - unlike the fossil-fuel industry, which has orchestrated climate
denial - faces climate change as its No. 1 risk - www.insurancejournal.com/
Consider the following possibilities:
b We are not causing climate change, and we take no action. No problem.
b We are not causing climate change, but we take action to reduce emissions of heat-trapping gases. Putting a price on
carbon emissions to allow markets to address their costs will raise energy prices, with negative short-term economic
impacts. On the other hand, it will lead us to greater energy efficiency and more-rapid development of new energy
technologies, improving our security and competitiveness by reducing our dependence on foreign energy sources. These
are important goals independent of climate change.
b We are causing climate change, and we take action to mitigate it. We still will face short-term economic costs and
climate impacts, but in the long term, neither will be as severe as they otherwise would become.
b We are causing climate change, but we take no action. Then we have bet the farm" - the entire planet - and lost.
The critical issue is not who is right about the cause of observed climate change, but the risk attached to our choice
of action or inaction.
At worst, taking action to mitigate climate change represents an excessive" investment in a secure energy future.
At best, however, it represents insurance that the world we bequeath to our children will not be overwhelmed with
inexorable ecological, economic and social instability.
Richard E. White, Durango