The Real Cost of a Sweltering Summer

By Lewis Braham - 2012-07-19T00:21:34Z

Photograph by Richard Drew/AP Photo

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Long-term cost

Ironically, the air conditioners we use to combat heat waves may ultimately make us hotter than ever. All the coal and gas burned to produce that electricity produces carbon dioxide that is causing a permanent heat wave: climate change. Global average temperatures have risen about 0.8 degrees Celsius and could reach 4 degrees Celsius by 2100, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The odds of the recent heat wave occurring without climate change have been calculated as 1 in 100,000. William Nordhaus of Yale University, a leading climate change economist, has projected that waiting 50 years to address climate change would cost $4.1 trillion in 2012 prices.