giovedì 4 febbraio 2010

Climate Change: the Costs of Inertia

In these days it's very difficult for me to discuss about italian politics because the entire current political debate is totally focused on the next regional elections for which italian political parties are struggling to indicate the best (in their own vision) candidates ("the right man in the right place") or to solve those troubles MPs have with the law through new special norms. While other politicians are busy with gaffes and jokes (A wall? Where? I haven't actually seen anything...), critical problems and issues still remain open without any consideration: jobs, development, innovation, education, crime and corruption, environment, quality of life, etc.

It is clear enough that Italy has made a clear political choice: inertia or the strategy of doing nothing waiting that things will turn right by themselves. This strategy implies that any decisive intervention is indefinitely postponed in order to reach a state of emergency where extraordinary and improvised measures can be adopted. In these conditions anything is allowed to solve the emergency in strict time constraints i.e. economic resources can be easily wasted or stolen.

This typical italian approach can be easily seen in case of natural disasters (whose impacts could be highly prevented with preventive measures) usually considered a great business and a big opportunity to gain easy public money. But the same happens everywhere: health, education, waste management, water management, crime control, public budget, debt and expenditure management and so on.

But inertia shows dramatic costs reverberating on the future: above all future generations and the future political class who will be forced to finally deal with these costs and effects.

Inertia shows surely high economic costs but also critical extra-economic costs. A typical example of this is the effects of inertia in the management of environmental issues whose impacts may arrive far beyond the limits of the economic dimension and analysis: these issues can be hardly analyzed only thanks to numerical, theoretical and mathematical models and simulations for their implications with health, natural resources (water, air, soil), agriculture capability to produce healthy food, etc. How can we set an economic value to this? What's the price of a human life or a forest, a river, a single tree or animal?

With regards to this the Union of Concerned Scientists developed an interesting document where it is possible to see the consequences of inaction in climate change management in USA. This document can be found here.

It could be useful to have a similar document also for Italy where these issues are not well understood and fully known: information is essential to cope with these future scenarios and to mobilize the proper energies and resources to solve these issues.

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