More than 100 Elite Economists Agree: Global Warming is a Risk to the Economy

Earlier this week, some political theater unfolded during hearings before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. As Chairwoman Boxer prepared to move forward with climate and energy legislation, opponents boycotted the session, claiming they need to do more studies of the bill.

As EPA Administrator Jackson has testified, this legislation is remarkably similar to the version passed by the House. The EPA has run the major provisions of the House clean energy legislation through several economic computer models and new models of the Kerry-Boxer bill are unlikely to reveal much that is new.

The truth is the Environmental Protection Agency, the Congressional Budget Office, and the Department of Energy already have ample amounts of data regarding the multiple economic benefits of confronting climate change, as well as the modest costs.

But that's not all. We also have plenty of data about the high price of inaction.

On Wednesday, as reported in USA Today, a new survey revealed that 84 percent of top economists believe that the effects of global warming will "create significant risks" to the economy, especially to the agriculture, fishing, insurance, and health sectors.

The study, called Economists &Climate Change: Consensus and Open Questions, was released by the Institute for Policy Integrity at New York University. 

It surveyed 144 elite economists, defined as those who have published in one of the top 25 economic journals. These are highly prestigious publications. They are peer-reviewed and print the best in the field, including work from Nobel Laureates.

Here is what those experts believe:

  • 75 percent agreed that uncertainty about the environmental and economic effect of global warming pollution is a reason to do more about reducing emissions, rather than less.
  • 72 percent agreed that the U.S. should commit to action regardless of what other countries do or if it acts in concert with at least some other countries.

The case has already been made. We already know that failing to stop global warming will devastate our economy and public welfare. And we already know that the clean energy bill before the Senate would be a major step toward solving the climate crisis.

The data is in. Now it is time to act on it.