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Feb 02, 2009

Frank Ackerman’s new book Can We Afford the Future? The Economics of a Warming World debates the proposition that overly ambitious climate initiatives could hurt the economy. The author argues the need for economic measures that endorse active and large-scale climate protection.

Can We Afford the Future? The Economics of a Warming World

Author: Frank Ackerman
Publisher: Zed Books, 2009

The book is part of The New Economics series, which uses the ideas behind a new, more human economics to provide a fresh way of looking at major contemporary issues.

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The author argues that conventional cost-benefit models cannot inform our decisions about how to address the threat of climate change. According to many economists, climate change is a moderately important problem; the best policy is a slow, gradual start, to avoid spending too much.

While the issue involves public policy decisions with impacts spanning centuries; there is no market in which public resources are traded from one century to the next. The choice of an intergenerational discount rate is a matter of ethics and policy, not a market-determined result.

In this book, Frank Ackerman offers a refreshing look at the economics of climate change, explaining how the arbitrary assumptions of conventional theories get in the way of understanding this urgent problem. The benefits of climate protection are vital but priceless, and hence often devalued in cost-benefit calculations.

Preparation for the most predictable outcomes of global warming is less important than protection against the growing risk of catastrophic change; massive investment in new, low carbon technologies and industries should be thought of as life insurance for the planet.

Ackerman makes an impassioned plea to construct a better economics, arguing that the solutions are affordable and the alternative is unthinkable. If we can't afford the future, what are we saving our money for?

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