I believe the consequences of doing nothing about climate change are going to be far more costly for everyone on the planet, including farmers, than any particular group of people could possibly suffer economically from attempts to combat it. Farmers have as much skin in the game as the rest of us, and even more in some ways. If global temperatures continue to rise, many of their crops which are now well-yielding and profitable will become harder and more expensive to grow in the future. That’s not to mention the effects of droughts, storms and other extreme weather disturbances that increase as a result of global warming, or the severity of winter freezes and storms that can wipe out an entire nation’s crops in one fell swoop (yes, it may seem like a misnomer, but global warming is having an effect on the severity of winters). How can you quantify these effects going forward? They’re so potentially massive that they dwarf short-term economic losses that may occur from capping greenhouse gas emissions or regulating fertilizer or irrigation techniques.
We’re not precisely sure what a world with unchecked climate change would look like, but what we can hypothesize with confidence isn’t pretty. Rising sea levels means a greater portion of the world’s land–including rich farmlands in low-lying areas such as many parts of Southeast Asia that produce rice–will be underwater. What do we feed the people who are left starving, homeless or impoverished by these conditions? Increased drought conditions due to increased temperature means farmers will have more bad seasons and more difficulty in earning a living tending their crops, not to mention there’s less food on the world market. If these things come to pass everybody will be in economic dire straits, not just farmers. Thus, I don’t see much of a comparison between the potential effects of a climate change bill and the results from choosing, for economic, political or even ideological reasons (as some wish to do), to ignore the problem and accept the consequences sight-unseen.
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