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Opinion
Tyler Cowen

Fear Climate Change and Our Response to It

Global warming will be expensive, and humanity’s irrational reaction may make it even more so.

The signs are getting clearer.

The signs are getting clearer.

Photographer: Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images

The potential costs of climate change, already the subject of heated debate, may actually be understated. It’s not just the potential disruptions to weather systems, agriculture and coastal cities; it’s that we may respond to those problems in stupid and destructive ways. As the philosopher and cartoon character Pogo said: “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

Consider how poorly we have responded to many non-climate-related problems. In the case of Brexit, for example, the Leave movement was arguably responding to some real problems. The European Union bureaucracy is too stringent, and perhaps the U.K. did not have an ideal arrangement with immigration. But Brexit is careening toward disaster, with no good plan on tap, the two major parties in splinters, the British pound declining, the Irish “Good Friday” agreement at risk, and the U.K. seriously talking about food stockpiles and other emergency measures.