Quotes of the day

“So what is all this going to cost?

“The short answer is trillions of dollars over the next few decades. It is a significant sum but a relatively small fraction of the world’s total economic output. In energy infrastructure alone, the transformational ambitions that delegates to the United Nations climate change conference are expected to set in the coming days will cost more than $10 trillion in additional investment from 2010 to 2030, according to a new estimate from the International Energy Agency.

“As scary as that number sounds, the agency said that the costs would ramp up relatively slowly and be largely offset by economic benefits in new jobs, improved lives, more secure energy supplies and a reduced danger of climate catastrophe. Most of the investment will come from private rather than public funds, the agency contends.

“‘People often ask about the costs,’ said Kevin Parker, the global head of Deutsche Bank Asset Management, who tracks climate policy for the bank. ‘But the figures people tend to cite don’t take into account conservation and efficiency measures that are easily available. And they don’t look at the cost of inaction, which is the extinction of the human race. Period.'”

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“‘We are collectively irrational, in the sense that we should really care about the long-term well-being of the planet but when we get up in the morning it’s very hard to motivate ourselves,’ said Dan Ariely, a professor of behavioral economics at Duke University, who gave a keynote speech last month at a Washington conference devoted to understanding why people don’t do more to save energy.

“Psychologists studying the issue say that the now-familiar warnings about climate change kick at emotional dead spots in all human brains — but especially in American brains. Researchers have only theories to explain why people in the United States have done less than those in such places as Europe and Japan. Some think Americans are culturally leery of programs the government might develop to target climate change, trusting instead that the free market will solve major problems.

“One U.S. researcher thought television is to blame: All those TV ads have made Americans more focused on their own wants, she theorized, and less likely to care about the long-term good.”

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“The decade of 2000 to 2009 appears to be the warmest one in the modern record, the World Meteorological Organization reported in a new analysis on Tuesday…

“A negotiator for a large bloc of developing countries meanwhile challenged rich countries to make far deeper cuts in emissions than they have proposed so far. The negotiator, Lumumba Stanislaus Di-Aping of Sudan, said President Obama should be willing to spend far more to limit climate dangers in the world’s most vulnerable regions.

“‘We have to ask him, when he provided trillions of dollars to save Wall Street, are the children of the world not deserving help to save their lives?‘ he said.”