Effects of climate change, underestimated by scientists, are also undervalued by economists that is even worse than the first case, experts said on Wednesday.
In an op-ed for The New York Times, Naomi Oreskes, professor of the history of science at Harvard University and Nicholas Stern, chairman of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, said that economists underestimated the costs of climate change.
Citing the recent report from London School of Economics and Political Science, the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and the Earth Institute at Columbia University, they said that the economists failed as "world leaders understand neither the magnitude of the risks to lives and livelihoods, nor the urgency of action."
"That is a problem because, as the report notes, these “missing risks” could have “drastic and potentially catastrophic impacts on citizens, communities and companies," the experts warned.
They said that lack of experience is another reason for failing on estimation about the costs of climate change.
"[...] Carbon dioxide is at its highest concentration in the atmosphere in three million years. The last time levels were this high, the world was about five degrees Fahrenheit warmer, [...] humans have no experience weathering sustained conditions of this type."
They also said some of the huge factors in the climate system are omitted in economic assessments of climate change, as a little change could affect the system destructively.
Mentioning "cascading effects" as another problem, Oreskes and Stern said that negative effects of climate change will reinforce one another in harmful ways rather than occurring in isolation which makes it hard to understand.
"For example, a sudden rapid loss of Greenland or West Antarctic land ice could lead to much higher sea levels and storm surges, which would contaminate water supplies, destroy coastal cities [...]," they added.
The two experts recommended to pursue a new, greener economic path for growth and development, instead of researches to deepen people's understanding on the risks.
"If we do that [following green perspective], a happy ending is still possible. But if we wait to be more certain, the only certainty is that we will regret it," they warned.
By Burak Bir