Who pays, how much, and when? Those are the questions world leaders will confront in the coming months as they meet to discuss strategies both for combating global warming, and for coping with a warmer planet.
Yes, the discussion in many quarters is asking questions like how do we immunize more people against tropical diseases, rather than how do we keep those tropical diseases from spreading to cooler latitudes, according to an editorial in today's Christian Science Monitor.
Just supplying clean water, food and accounting for the "mass migrations" of people from flooded areas will cost the world $67 billion annually by 2030, according to a U.N. report discussed yesterday, Bloomberg News reported today. Military costs too could spiral upwards as the world enters a period of "persistent conflict," U.S. army officials have warned.
One key question, as the Monitor editorial points out, is economic. Is it less costly to pay now to prevent the worst consequences of global warming, or to bolster the world's people against its suspected impacts? One problem with the economic argument: All the unknowns.
The world's scientists have done an extraordinary job laying out an array of often frightening consequences of unfettered global warming. But what about the ills they have not foreseen? It's hard to figure the cost of something you haven't imagined.
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